The court of law is a temple of justice where the guilty is punished and the innocent acquitted. However, as much as this is the court’s mission, some factors may contribute to convicting a wrong person of a criminal offense. Maslow (2020), in his article, 6 Most Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions, listed some causes of wrongful convictions, which included eyewitness misinterpretation, incorrect forensics, official misconducts, use of informants, inadequate defense, among others.
Wrongful convictions can be prevented if the proper measures are put in place by everyone involved in the case. This includes the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the police, the lawyers, the witnesses to the defendant. Everyone involved in a case must realize the gravity of their responsibility and work towards achieving justice. Here are some pointers to preventing wrongful convictions:
Proper police investigations
The police have the duty to ensure that the community is a safe place by prevention crime and investigating crimes. Given this, the police have the responsibility to tap into all the necessary skills to identify the right person. Identification should not be based on mere speculation. It should be based on facts and procedures. Gibbons (1942), in his article, Criminal Investigations, stated that “all through the investigation, the investigator must be ever mindful of his duty- that-all-important duty that requires that he be fair, impartial and unbiased.”
The police should focus on seeking the truth, not forced confessions. The police ought to remain an unbiased investigator in keeping the society safe and the prison innocent free.
The testimony of a witness is known to be a valuable and credible source of evidence. However, it must be noted that witnesses can sometimes be unreliable because of poor memory, confusion, exaggeration, a wrong view of the incident, and many more. This makes it very important for investigators to use the best method in extracting genuine testimony from witnesses.
Witnesses should also be careful to say the truth and nothing but the truth in court sittings. To ensure this, ample protections must be provided to witnesses.
It is disheartening that the officials who should be at the heart of ensuring justice are sometimes caught up in the evil of perverting justice. To prevent wrongful convictions, law officials should follow due process in every criminal case. They have to perform their duties with the required commitment of care and objectivity. This would help the officials to be upright in court cases.
The objectiveness of the judge(s) and the jury
In every case, the judge and the jury have to be objective and not allow their emotions to get the best of them. They should, in every situation, have in mind to look at the subject matter of each case without preconceived perceptions and bias. Also, they should be ready to follow due process proscribed by the law in ensuring that justice is carried out in a court of law.
In a situation where a judge has a personal interest in a matter, he is advised to step down from the case to prevent emotions from being the judge of the issue. This is according to the rule that states that “Nemo judex in causa sua.”
In every criminal case, there is usually the prosecution and the defendant. The prosecution establishes a case before the court with the use of evidence while the defendant counters the claim using evidence as well. When there is a weak defense, there is a possibility that the accused would not be rightly defended, thus leading to wrongful convictions. Therefore the defense team must use strong evidence to protect the client from wrongful convictions.
In providing evidence, the defendant must be as transparent as possible. It is one thing to say something. It is another to say it clearly beyond every measure of doubt or contention. Without a doubt, this is why the defense team must present evidence in the best way possible. Thankfully, computer-generated animations have made the job easier for defendants. With the use of trial animations, the evidence can be presented to the court in a manner lacking every measure of obscurity.
In conclusion, a lot is at stake in a criminal trial. Therefore, every person involved in the trial must always have justice at heart in all matters to ensure that justice is carried out.