18 April 2004

This was sent to me a while back as an example of why juries are a vitally important part of the system:
Almost a century ago G.K. Chesterton sat on a jury and jotted down his impressions.

"Now it is a terrible business to mark a man out for the vengeance of men," Chesterton said. "But it is a thing to which a man can grow accustomed, as he can to other terrible things; he can even grow accustomed to the sun. And the horrible thing about all legal officials, even the best, about all judges, magistrates, barristers, detectives, and policemen, is not that they are wicked (some of them are good), not that they are stupid (several of them are quite intelligent), it is simply that they have got used to it. Strictly they do not see the prisoner in the dock; all they see is the usual man in the usual place. They do not see the awful court of judgment; they only see their own workshop."
I must admit that I am somewhat dubious of the quote. It does not strike me as something which a person who has gone to court for one case would likely perceive. On the other hand, it does describe the major danger of a professional court system - especially one which has turned into an assembly line as the courts have in the modern era because of drug crimes.

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