Posts Tagged With ‘justice’


Reasonable Doubt

I like this story to explain reasonable doubt. (From Sam Leith’s wonderful “You talkin to me?“)

“A man is in the dock, accused of murdering his wife. Although the body was never recovered, all the evidence points to the defendant: his car boot was filled with baling twine, bloodstained hammers, torn items of his wife’s clothing and suchlike. He had abundant motive – as the cashing in of a huge insurance policy taken out on the eve of his wife’s death demonstrates. And no sooner was his wife reported missing than he was holidaying in the Maldives with his pneumatically enhanced twenty-three-year-old mistress, his Facebook page filled with photographs of him in a pair of Speedos and a snorkel, grinning his murderous head off.

Nevertheless, his lawyer at trial pulls off a remarkable coup de théâtre.

‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,’ he says. ‘The prosecution has presented you with a mountain of evidence that tends to show that my client is guilty of the crime with which he has been charged. But that evidence means nothing. For not only is my client not guilty of his wife’s murder, but no murder has in fact taken place. My client’s wife is alive and well. And I can prove it. It is now five minutes to midday. At precisely midday, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, those doors over there will open –’ he indicates the main doors into the courtroom with a flourishing sweep of the arm – ‘and my client’s wife will walk through them into the court.’

Gasps, naturally, go all round. For the next five minutes, the eyes of the presiding judge, the jury and every functionary of the court are glued to the main doors. Eventually, the heavy hands of the courtroom clock tick round to midday and a solemn bong is heard. The doors remain tight shut.

‘Well?’ says the judge. ‘Your promised miracle has not materialised.’

‘Indeed not,’ replies the defending barrister. ‘But every single one of you was watching those doors in the expectation that it would. In the absence of a body, that is surely an object demonstration that there remains a reasonable doubt over my client’s responsibility for his wife’s disappearance.’

‘Very good,’ says the judge. ‘However, I ask the jury to note that the only person in the courtroom not watching the doors was your client.’”


The hidden curriculum of 21st century learning

The hidden curriculum of 21st Century learning refers to all of the skills – which are increasingly soft and social – that are presumed but not explicitly taught or scaffolded in education. Skills that are largely present among the most socially privileged learners but not explicitly addressed within the curriculum or school structure as a whole.

Source: here


The hidden curriculum of 21st century learning

The hidden curriculum of 21st Century learning refers to all of the skills – which are increasingly soft and social – that are presumed but not explicitly taught or scaffolded in education. Skills that are largely present among the most socially privileged learners but not explicitly addressed within the curriculum or school structure as a whole.

Source: here


Links for January 16th


Photos with Flash

A New York paper is running a story on Thao Nguyen’s transformation ” from quiet Web developer to feisty crimefighter”. [thanks Matt for the pointer]

Allegedly (and while I’ve every sympathy with her if it did happen, it looks like it may well have, but I still think it’s an “allegedly”), in response to the man below unzipping himself and pulling it out on a mid-afternoon uptown R train, she pulled out her phone and took a picture of him.

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Not long after it was evidence submitted to the police, and posted on Flickr.

Tama Leaver has written a corker of a post about the ramifications of this.

“while I commend Thao Nguyen for her quick thinking and wish her every luck in prosecuting the man who appears strongly to have abused her, I simply want to add a few words of warning to the digital ether and ask you to think about the ramifications of digital images becoming a form of citizen “justice”. We need to be wary in such cases, or our new digital resources may indeed open a seductive but ultimately unjust hi-tech pandora’s box.”

Spot on.

On a broader level, it does make you wonder about individual freedoms and just how pleasant bottom-up life is. Stowe Boyd coined the term swarmth for all that wonderful collective decision making ability that networked people are beginning to be able to show. But I would hate it if we forgot that these swarms have stings too.


Innocence & The Wisdom of Crowds

A couple of months ago I was called up for jury service. I have to say I was excited – human interest, curiosity at how decisions were made behind the scenes, and a little bit of “see how groups work” enthusiasm. I also have to say that, when I was “behind the scenes”, I surprised myself by doing something I cannot remember doing since I was seventeen (barring at loved ones). I shouted long and hard someone.

The case was a short one, thankfully not rape or murder, but still had the possibility of a five year sentence. We sat and listened to the witnesses, barristers and judge for 4 days.