Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Potemkin Trials?

[B]ehind the judicial routine at the first trial for a Guantánamo detainee lies a parallel universe of law and lawyers. Secret evidence held in red folders is not revealed in open court. The gallery is mostly empty, because there are no members of the public. In what would be the jury box, every occupant wears a military uniform.
William Glaberson, "A U.S. Trial by Its Looks, but Only So," NYTimes (July 29, 2008)
Question: If some detainees are acquitted, will this prove that the Guantanamo somewhat-trial-like proceedings are just?

Answer: It may just prove that some military jurors are good-hearted -- or, alternatively, that some of the military actors are concerned about public relations or other such matters.

A system of adjudication can be distorted if it produces an unacceptable number false negatives as well as if it produces too many false positives. One thing seems reasonably sure about the proceedings at Guantánamo: much of the important evidence will not be subjected to adversarial testing. There is good reason to wonder if it will be subjected to an adequate degree and quality of nonadversarial evaluation.

the dynamic evidence page

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