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Trust Justice?

The high profile David Bain retrial is finally over after 3 months and he has been found not guilty of all charges. So is this a good decision? Actually, I really don’t know.

I only took a passing interest in the trial but it was always hard to know what the outcome should have been. When the prosecution was presenting its evidence I thought he was probably guilty, but when the defence were in action I thought he was more likely innocent. I really wouldn’t have wanted the jury’s job of sorting it all out.

Despite the fact that few people really know much about the real facts there still seems to be a lot of strong opinions on the result. About half the people (according to a Herald poll and my own experience) seem to think this is the right result and the other half are equally adamant its wrong.

Actually I’m not really that concerned about the result. Its more the process which is a worry. There have been a few well documented cases now where the police have been shown to be either incompetent or somewhat less than totally principled in their actions (I want to make it clear I’m not saying they’re corrupt).

So if he is innocent why was he found guilty in the first trial. And if it was clear enough to the jury that he’s innocent then why are the police still so convinced he’s guilty? Someone obviously really has it wrong!

The other thing is the obvious distrust people have for the justice (sorry, cancel that word, I mean legal) system. Before the current case I suspect there was about a 50/50 split regarding his guilt. After the case things are about the same. So if the trial hasn’t really changed people’s minds what does that tell us about the legal system?

Clearly people don’t have enough trust in it. Normally I would say that we should trust the outcome of a trial because the jury or judge gets to hear all the evidence and the public who are making their opinion known know almost none of it. But the system has got it wrong before and it could be wrong again.

So really I don’t know but I will give the system the benefit of the doubt on this occasion and say the right decision has been made. But after this case I’m even less sure if we can we can really trust justice.

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