In Defense of Political Trials

By Charles F. Abel; Frank H. Marsh et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

We suspect that when most people think of a political trial they envision a man or woman standing before an array of black robed judges, defending themselves against the state's charges of treason, insurrection, heresy, or some peculiar crime that only exists in Eastern Europe or Asia, such as criticizing the prime minister or counterrevolutionary activities. Memorable trials of historical persons such as Socrates, Thomas More, or, more recently, Dietrich Bonhoffer are usually offered as definitive examples of political trials. Even our present-day judges, lawyers, and jurisprudential scholars think of a political trial as evil phenomena fostered by Communists, Third World dictators, or South Africa. Very little thought is given to the idea that there are other sorts of political trials, which are, if properly understood, essential to participating in our political process and, under the right circumstances, help promote justice.

Our book introduces a different idea regarding a political trial, and it presents the argument that political trials are not inherently evil; they can be seen as a positive duty of those holding the public trust. The proposition offered is not that all political trials are justifiable, but rather that different kinds of political trials are justifiable in different kinds of situations. The book is divided into two sections. In the first section, we examine the nature of political trials and debate their cogency. We also consider how they might be justified. In the second section, we examine specific areas of law that are inherently political and at present discriminatory. That is, they work politically to the advantage of certain individuals and groups and oppressively toward others. They distribute social, economic, or political burdens ineq-

-vii-

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In Defense of Political Trials
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter One - The Ubiquitous Political Trial 1
  • Notes 26
  • Chapter Two - Contrasting Theories of the Political Trial 31
  • Notes 48
  • Chapter Three - Defining and Evaluating Political Trials 51
  • Notes 72
  • Chapter Four - Justifying Political Trials 77
  • Notes 98
  • Chapter Five - Political Trials, Science, and Religion: the Proper Relationship Between Church and State 101
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter Six - Political Trials, Science, and Religion: Politics and Medical Science 123
  • Notes 140
  • Cases Cited 143
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 151
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