On The Transparent Court

It is a great shame that in the world in which we live today one of the few places we can go where some sort of logic and rhetoric is taken seriously is in courts. Depending on your preference in such matters, you can watch lawyers grandstand for a jury or you can watch Supreme Court justices eviscerate the terrible arguments of those who are trying to craft appeals to sway a majority of justices to their way of thinking. For some decades, at least, the general level of skill at rhetoric and logic among the general population has declined to the point where C.S. Lewis openly questioned in his classic work the Screwtape Letters the efficacy of making an appeal to consistency and logic at all.

One can learn a fair amount while watching court hearings. One of the things to learn is that the presence of cameras has in at least some cases led the prosecution to play too broadly to the camera in hopes of gaining popular support for a prosecution while failing to remember to focus their appeal on the people who matter in the jury. Sloppiness in making arguments and managing the courtroom drama can allow for a witness or a defense attorney to trip up the argument of the prosecution and allow for reasonable doubt, which means victory for the defense. It does not matter if 90% of the general public believes that someone is guilty if the prosecution fails to convince the jury. Thankfully, at least at present, to be unpopular is not to be automatically criminal. Such days may yet come, but they are not here yet as I write this.

What is the benefit of a more transparent court? (And by this I mean courts on all levels.) Courts have a dramatic effect on the lives of people in the jurisdictions where those courts exist. Even if a great many cases are plea bargained out before reaching the trial phase, it is trials that represent the real test of claims and arguments. Different levels of court and different jurisdictions have widely varying rates of conviction, largely representing the preparation that has gone into making sure that a case is as airtight as possible as opposed to a desire to try as much as possible. While in Japan one is almost certainly going to be convicted, one has a good chance of beating a case in New York state, for whatever reason.

It is quite likely that most of us will be fortunate enough to never have to worry about being put on trial, but it is still worthwhile to see the combat of two sides for the approval of a given referee, be it judges or juries, over widely divergent views of the facts and law regarding particular cases. To the extent that either the text of laws or the nature of facts and reality matter, how we communicate the truth is still of importance. And to the extent that it is a threat for us to be falsely persecuted, it is worth knowing how it is that the state wishes to frame the people it wishes to deny the liberty of being part of free society, as that is a threat that may hang over quite a few of us in the months and years ahead.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to On The Transparent Court

  1. Barbara Lundberg says:

    Just wondering what you have in mind here. Something specific? Or general social trends, like the cancel culture? Or Biblical prophecy?

    • For the most part it is general social trends like cancel culture and the growing violence of the radical left, as well as biblical prophecy from a premillennial perspective, as well as cases like, say, the Rittenhouse case in particular.

  2. Catharine Martin says:

    Your last sentence is our real concern, because we are quickly losing the case for existing in a free society. It’s not a question of if, but of when.

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