America's Broken Legal System

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Upon evidence that a crime has been committed — Professor Plum, found dead in the conservatory with a lead pipe on the floor next to him, say — the police commence an investigation. When they have probable cause to believe that someone is guilty, the case is taken to a prosecutor, who (in the federal system, and many states) puts it before a grand jury. If the grand jury agrees that there’s probable cause, it indicts. The case goes to trial, where a jury of 12 ordinary citizens hears the evidence. If they judge the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they convict. If they think the accused not guilty — or even simply believe that a conviction would be unjust — they acquit.

Here’s how things all-too-often work today: Law enforcement decides that a person is suspicious (or, possibly, just a political enemy). Upon investigation into every aspect of his/her life, they find possible violations of the law, often involving obscure, technical statutes that no one really knows. They then file a “kitchen-sink” indictment involving dozens, or even hundreds of charges, which the grand jury rubber stamps. The accused then must choose between a plea bargain, or the risk of a trial in which a jury might convict on one or two felony counts simply on a “where there’s smoke there must be fire” theory even if the evidence seems less than compelling.


“Our criminal justice system has become a crime,” Glenn Reynolds, USA Today.

Ken White at Popehat concedes that “the system is broken“. After a year and a half ensnared by poisonous fecal tendrils in the unpumped toxic septic tank of DC “justice”, I don’t think “broken” quite covers it. To any non-American, this system is utterly repulsive. In England, trial by jury replaced trial by ordeal. Somehow America has managed to turn trial by jury into a mere postscript to trial by ordeal. I think it ought to be possible to litigate a 270-word blog post in under 270 weeks. So let’s get on with it.

“Oh, Won’t You Stay-ay-ay Just a Little Bit Longer?”, Mark Steyn at


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