to be lost, convictions would surely become harder to secure. And -- in America's favorite nightmare -- criminals might go free to walk the streets. And if the government were seen as a result to be helpless to ensure the security of the citizens, the social contract might well be abrogated -- an invitation, as the Founders would be the first to tell us, to revolution. Intolerable!
I for one am happy that, as an academic linguist rather than a jurist, I don't have to make real-life Solomonic decisions of this kind. If I had to, though, I might suggest as a first step what has already been suggested by prominent legal scholars: that convictions, and certainly capital sentences, never be based totally on a defendant's confession (as is not infrequently the current case), since confession as a speech act and a discourse genre is notoriously subject to abuse.
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