PSC 153 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Jeffrey Epstein, George Stinney, Procedural Justice

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26 Dec 2019
Questions to ponder
What is justice? What is fair legal system?
How can we change our legal system to make it better?
Can we use the tools of scientific psychology to do that?
Jeffrey Epstein
Atop the alleged pyramid of Epstein associated was his ex - girlfriend turned
social companion. Allegedly reporting to her & to Epstein was a coterie of
assistants in their early 20s. Prosecutors are examining whether their
experience with the accused predator should categorize them as accomplices or
as one of the abused
Is it fair, appropriate, & just to charge someone who began as a victim? It can be
a fine line of when you go from a victim to a knowing participant in the crime
In the police report, 1 victim who alleged she was forced to have sex with
Marcinkova told police Epstein bragged that he had “purchased” Marcinkova &
brought her to the US to be his “Yugoslavian sex slave.” she was probably 15
when she came to the US & 16 when she engaged in sex with others at Epstein’s
So what does justice look like here?
Does Marcinkova deserve to be prosecuted for luring underage girls to
Epstein knowing what he planned to do?
Had Marcinkova been prosecuted at the time of the incidents she would
have been viewed as a minor & her own abuse would have been taken
into account in any sentence
Convicted of adultery & sentenced to death by stoning
Zafran Bibi, 26, said her brother in law raped her. Her husband was in prison
No charges were brought against the brother in law: rape can only be proven
with testimony of 4 male witnesses
The accusation of rape was taken as a confession of sexual intercourse
14 year old executed george stinney, Jr. (Oct. 1929 - June 1944) South Carolina
Convicted of killing 11 & 7 year old sisters
No evidence except coerced confession
2 hour trial, all white jury (10 min deliberation)
Electric chair
Conviction vacated 2014: lack of defense, coerced confession, cruel & unusual
What if fair? What is justice?
Distributive justice
Are the outcomes fair?
If a cold blooded murder gets off on a technicality, is that fair?
Procedural justice
Are the procedures faire (regardless of the outcome)?
Neutrality, lack of bias, rights respected
What do we want from our legal system?
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Tom Tyler: we want Distributive Justice but even more so, we want procedural
justice (ex: a change to state our case, neutrality, fair procedures) & personal
People who believe they will be treated unfairly or victimized by law
enforcement are less likely to cooperate
Biased, unprofessional behavior of legal actors (ex: police, prosecutors,
judges) creates concerns of injustice
It also cripples efforts to obtain evidence needed to convict the guilty
Relationship factors are important t(quality of treatment)
We are socialized in childhood into thinking that our own legal system
has procedural & distributive fairness before we can evaluate procedures
or outcomes, & it takes a lot to counter that bias
How fairly ew are treated at home may also affect our feelings of fairness
How culturally bound are our views of justice?
American Legal System: Assumptions
Is it really better for 9 guilty people to go free than to convict 1 innocent person?
In China, accused are assumed guilty - better for society than the individual to be
Should we care more than we do about victim rights or about defendant rights?
(Megan’s law)
How can we best balance societal & individual needs? Under what
circumstances should the balance shift?
Adversarial vs. Inquisitorial System
2 opposing sides
Bring evidence, call & question witnesses
Analogy is Combat (with rules)
Judge is umpire
Rooted in “Common Law” (Judge - make law)
* US has adversarial system
Inquisitorial system
* common in Europe
Judge plays an active role
Witnesses (eyewitnesses, expert witnesses) testify for court
Have attorneys too
Brief history of adversarial system: what is justice?
Medieval England
Hue and the Cry
Ex: if someone stole from another
Owner would cry out to their neighbors for help. Track
down theif, & hang them
This method lacks a defense
Norman Invasion
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Ex: if you were of higher status/more wealthy, you could go to
king and repeat a phrase, like “I didn’t do it” … and then the king
may excuse them & their charge
Ordeal (criminal) - a test to see if God would intervene
Carry hot irons
Hand in boiling water
Bound & plunged in stream or pond
The water was seen as very pure
If you sunk - not guilty
If you float - guilty
* women have more adiposity ( they float better)
Trial by combat
Precursor of Grand Jury & All Juries
Citizens gathered by 12 knights to talk about evidence
If Knights and Justices decided to charge person, then Ordeal
They chose whether the person charged would face an Ordeal or not
** this had influence on our own jury system
English ordeal, justice
Clergy could have influence on trials
Brief history of the adversarial legal system
Very gradually
Law became more centralized & standardized
Some Due Process rights were introduced (Ex: to call witnesses, to have
a jury)
Due process
Procedural due process
Following the rules
Substantive due process
Content of laws
Can’t have laws that infringe on liberty
interests, like rights of parents to send
children to private school or right to practice
certain religions)
Court systems
Federal courts
If driver was a citizen of a different state
If your civil rights were violated (violations of the Constitution)
Ex: you were hit by a car because you were a woman or if you
were a person in a minority group
If driver was a federal official
If the violation is of a federal law
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