Friday, July 23, 2010

Why the CPS was - unfortunately - right

Nothing like a bit of alleged police brutality and outrageous whitewash by the bullying fascist police state in which we live to kick off a Friday is there?

I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about, but just in case you don't I'm referring to the news that the CPS say no charges will be brought against PC Simon Harwood, the officer caught on film hitting Iain Tomlinson with a big stick who died a few moment later.

Now, let's play a game for a second, it's called "Get Into Dizzy's Time Machine" and shoot back a while to a post I did when the incident happened in which I said,
Of course, what we can guarantee from this video is that whatever the IPCC decides there will be someone on the Left that screams "whitewash" from the rooftops. The Right on the other hand will argue, as noted, that the shit that happens happened.

Was the policeman with the baton a bit naughty for knocking this guy to the ground? On the face of it, just an ickle bit and he should probably be bollocked in some way for it. Is it likely that the whack caused him to wander off and have a heart attack some minutes later? Who knows - it doesn't matter because even if it did or didn't there will still be enough that believe it did (see "whitewash" point) and boy will they shout it loudly.

Thus, the end result of this will be - as is usually the way - that the actions of one policeman will get used by those on the Left who are not necessarily violent as yet more evidence that free protest is being curtailed by creeping fascism of the state.
And 'lo it came to pass. Obviously this time it is a CPS rather than the just the IPCC but essentially that is the situation we're in this morning, with screams of whitewash and much anger about the terrible bastard Police who are, in fact, murderous scumbags, you can read the original post here.

Excellent examples of this can, naturally in this wonderful wide-web age, be found on the likes of Twitter, with pearls of wisdom such as

Police use video as evidence to convict people, People can't use video as evidence to convict police.
Looks like a pretty straight forward killer argument doesn't it? Unfortunately though, if you actually pay attention to what the CPS have said, and the law, it isn't. As many will have heard yesterday, whilst the CPS pretty much acknowledges that yes, the officer committed assault, the law has a time limit of six month and they've been investigating for 16 months, there is nothing they can do about it.

And let's be fair for a moment, nothing bar a manslaughter or even murder charge would be considered enough anyway, so, had they proceeded at pace with a common assault charge, there would have been screams of, yes, a whitewash and lack of justice.

Then we have the issue of different medical opinions from medical examiners who would have to be called as prosecution witnesses. How, precisely, can the Crown take forward a prosecution where its own case would involve its own witness undermining its assertion of guilt by offering "reasonable doubt" up to a Jury?

Yes it does absolutely suck for the family and the screaming masses of outraged political activists, but what I've just said is exactly the point a defence barrister would put to a Jury. You can just picture the scene,

Ladies and Gentleman of Jury, it is not my job to prove the innocence of the defendant, it is my job to show to you that the case against him presented by the Crown does not establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant's action led to the death of this man.

You've heard the evidence the Crown has presented. You've heard how the Crown has brought its own expert medical opinion to this court; and crucially ladies and gentleman, you have heard the Crown's first medical opinion; the doctor who performed the very first post-mortem on the alleged victim of manslaughter; and that opinion, given to you under oath, was that the cause of death was not as a result of the blow from the defendant.

Your job is not to decide whether the defendant is guilty on the balance of probabilities. Your job is to decide whether there is absolutely no reasonable doubt that he is guilty. The Crown has, in fact, made my job very easy, because I have not had to question their witnesses to establish doubt in your minds, their own witness has testified to this court that there is doubt over the causal relationship between the blow by the defendant and the death of the victim.

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury. The Crown has shot itself in the foot. The Defence rests.
I realise some people might not like this, and they might think "well it's 2 to 1 on the medical opinion, majority rules OK!", but that is not how criminal justice and jury trial works. I myself have been on a Jury at the Old Bailey, and even though I personally felt the defendant was guilty there was reasonable doubt which meant they weren't convicted.

Think about it for a moment. It would, frankly, be absurd for the Crown to attempt to prosecute someone and then have their own witness testify that their own case wasn't water-tight and that the defendant might in fact be not guilty.

That's why the CPS didn't, wouldn't, and couldn't go ahead with a trial, and screaming "whitewash" or "cover-up" is little more than a jerking knee inspired by those who have prejudged the case and have a committed held view on the officer's guilt already. If this had gone to trial, and the result would've been not guilty, I imagine there would be theories and speculation about Jury nobbling too.

I guess the next step in this process is going to be a private prosecution, which, to be honest, the family should easily win because the burden of proof will be lower. However, that won't stop the heckling screams of a cover-up at the expense of sanely examining the CPS argument and realising why it had to do what it had to do.

Yes, you may say it's a travesty of justice, but having a trial where the prosecution made the defence case would've been an absolute travesty of the legal system as well.

*battens down the hatches for the inevitable onslaught*

UPDATE @ 12:30 - Before anyone starts saying I'm not responding to your comments or I have run away scared, or I'm censoring them, I have to go and do things for the rest of the day in the real world. Croydonian will be authorising comments ad hoc but don't expect a response from me any time today.

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