Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Law Professors Warn against Failure to Prioritize Accuracy in Judicial System

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Law Professors Warn against Failure to Prioritize Accuracy in Judicial System

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Nationwide protests in the wake of the violent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown indicate that some Americans fear that neither the justice system nor the police work on their behalf. Garner and Browns demises sparked outrage, but so did the grand juries' decisions to not indict the police officers who ended their lives.

A panel at the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting earlier this month shed some light on a system that it says, in some instances, does not always prioritize accuracy. As Dan Simon put it, sometimes, "accuracy actually gets lost in the shuffle."

Simon, a professor of law at the University of Southern California, said that an unwieldy system can lead players to pass on the responsibility of determining accuracy to others.

"You often hear this kind of thing: 'You know what, if you think of it, accuracy isn't really my problem,' says the police chief, or the prosecutor, or the judge, or someone else, 'because I'm just a cog in a big system,"' Simon said, indicating that the hope is that the truth will be drawn out by the system.

"For the most part, the 'system' happens to be 12 people who we kind of dump everything on," Simon said. In other words, questions of determining accuracy are often left to the discretion of the jury. Yet, if they are given inaccurate information, the end result of the trial may be flawed.

Sharon Davies, a professor of law at The Ohio State University, said that a system that prioritizes accuracy would build error checks and transparency into its procedures. …

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