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