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European law and British justice

Helen Thomas
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The differences are that in Europe:

  • adult witnesses are allowed to submit written statements as evidence
  • witness allowed to give evidence to a court from which the defendant has been removed
  • the prosecution lawyers are widely reported and give televised interviews during the trial


  • In England :

  • The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • the whole point of this judicial system is not to obtain convictions of the guilty but to prevent convictions of the innocent


  • Under a new European-wide arrest warrant anyone in Europe could be facing trial without the protection of an assumption of innocence that is the cornerstone of English law.

    It does fail miserably as in the case of Billie-Jo's alleged murder by her foster father on evidence given by the foster mother which now it turns out the police planted the idea in her head that he was guilty and she destroyed his alibi on some false evidence, thinking she was protecting her 3 natural children.

    Still when facing trial it would be nice to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
    [ July 01, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

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    Warren Dew
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    I thought it was Map who was supposed to be the troublemaker in this forum?
    Helen Thomas
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    I thought they (the moderators) might have perished from boredom.
    Max Habibi
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    Don't worry, we're watching you....


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    Warren Dew
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    "Don't"?
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    I thought it was Map who was supposed to be the troublemaker in this forum?

    They still owe me my allowance for last two months, so I am on strike.


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    Max Habibi
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    Warren Dew
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    Ah well, where would we be without beautiful women causing trouble?

    Mapraputa Is:

    I am on strike.

    Wasn't that why Homer abandoned his Hattusiad, about the beautiful Hittite woman Mapraputtis and the destruction of Bhogaz Khoy, and wrote something about Helen and the destruction of Troy instead?
    Helen Thomas
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    Originally posted by Max Habibi:
    Don't worry, we're watching you....


    Remember, innocent till proven guilty.

    Warren: That's a clever connection through Homer. Having never heard of his other iad I have to presume iad means poem.

    Actually don't know what Warren's on about regarding causing trouble.
    The question was whether the loss of presumption of innocence in a trail
    would matter greatly to the Brits. Why is it that no great trials in the rest of Europe seem to be known here ? The Brits seem to assume that greater miscarriages of justice occur elsewhere than here.
    [ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
    Jeroen Wenting
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    it's called 'Illiad' in English only.
    The original title contains the word Illias which is the name of the main character, which was changed for some obscure reason into Illiad in the English translation of the title only.


    42
    Jim Yingst
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    [JW]: it's called 'Illiad' in English only.

    Apparently it was known as "Iliade" in Germany for a long time; eventually replaced with "Ilias" which is now seen as more correct. Wouldn't surprise me if there were other countries who did something similar. The only "Illiad" I know of is the pseudonym of the author of User Friendly.

    [JW]: The original title contains the word Illias which is the name of the main character

    True if we consider the city of Troy (Ilium) to be a "character", I suppose.

    Warren: now if only there were a poster here named Troy, eh?
    [ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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    KR Campbell
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    Originally posted by Helen Thomas:


    Still when facing trial it would be nice to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    [ July 01, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]


    Whereabouts in Europe is there a presumption of guilt? Just so I can plan my holidays better.
    Helen Thomas
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    Originally posted by KR Campbell:


    Whereabouts in Europe is there a presumption of guilt? Just so I can plan my holidays better.


    In the case of Francisco Arce Montes - schoolgirl killer was tried in France for crimes committed in Brittany. He has a long history of attacking teenage girls in Europe and America. Montes admitted rape but not murder as the girl was alive when he left. As far as the French court was concerned it was an open and shut case and the man was sentenced to 30 years. Before the trial ended the prosecution were broadcasting all over the media.

    In Britain the points listed in the first post would not have been allowed.
    The defendant is not guilty until the court gives it's verdict borne from the evidence. Adults giving written statements as evidence would not be cross-examined in court so doesn't happen here.

    KR Campbell : I assume you are from the US. If prosecuters in the OJ Simpson case had/hadn't broadcast details all over the media (perhaps they did/didn't) how different would the verdict have been ?

    In the US if a defendant pleads guilty I think that the case would be closed whereas here there would still have to be proof. I think. As you said better find out these details before planning a holiday.
    [ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
    Helen Thomas
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    There are so many editions of Homer's Illiad I wonder how many are true to the original. Might have been dumbed down to maintain some correctness.

    Omar Khayyam's Rubayyat similarly has French and German versions that seem to have all the right-sounding rhyming words in the right places. :roll:
    KR Campbell
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    Originally posted by Helen Thomas:


    KR Campbell : I assume you are from the US.

    [ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]


    Verily, thou assumest wrong!
    KR Campbell
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    Originally posted by KR Campbell:


    Verily, thou assumest wrong!


    And furthermore, I shall not again set foot upon their hallowed soil until the Department of Homeland Security becomes the Department of Handing Out Jellybabies to Esteemed and Welcome Visitors!
    KR Campbell
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    Not even in transit, which no longer exists and why do people have to buy a visa just to pass through a US airport when all they want to do is sit in a transit lounge for a couple of hours reading a Tom Clancy novel or doing their knitting I know people who have paid out what is to them large amounts of money to get a British visa and gone through all the rigmarole of form filling and interviews only to find when they go to buy their ticket that they have to go through the whole procedure again and pay out the same amount of money to *apply* for a US visa just to pass through an airport on the way to the UK while some scabby dog sniffs their crotch for drugs and some grumpy sod acts like they are doing them a major favour stamping their passport to let them into a country that they don't even really want to enter as such just so they can pay inflated prices for a greasy burrito and a cup of coffee and then be patted down for concealed weapons by some unsmiling steroid gobbling xenophobic halfwit....

    ... have I got 'issues' do you think...?...
    Thomas Paul
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    Warren Dew
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    Helen Thomas:

    If prosecuters in [a U.S.] case had/hadn't broadcast details all over the media (perhaps they did/didn't) how different would the verdict have been ?

    I don't think the prosecution did, especially as media attention in that case probably aided the defense and the ultimate verdict was "not guilty". Not that the prosecution didn't botch things in other ways.

    For Brits interested in a comparison of U.S. law and British law, it may be interesting to read dissent I in this case, which traces some key bits of U.S. law back to British law.
    Jeroen Wenting
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    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
    [b[JW]: The original title contains the word Illias which is the name of the main character

    True if we consider the city of Troy (Ilium) to be a "character", I suppose.


    Ilium was the later Latin name of the city known as Truva to the locals (and still called that today).
    Ilias was one of the heroes, like Odyseus (whose travels came to be remembered as the odysee or Odyseia in Greek).
    Helen Thomas
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    Originally posted by Warren Dew:
    Helen Thomas:


    For Brits interested in a comparison of U.S. law and British law, it may be interesting to read dissent I in this case, which traces some key bits of U.S. law back to British law.


    I'll have to take a close look soon. Often forget/never know what's up with British law.
    Jim Yingst
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    Ilium was the later Latin name of the city known as Truva to the locals (and still called that today).

    And before Ilium, the Greeks and early Romans called it Ilion. I went with Ilium since that's the form most commonly used in the translations I've seen.

    Ilias was one of the heroes, like Odyseus (whose travels came to be remembered as the odysee or Odyseia in Greek).

    Really? That's news to me. Does this character appear in the Iliad anywhere? I haven't read it yet, though I have read the Odyssey. I've got a copy of the Iliad here though, English translation by Robert Fagels. I can't find an "Ilias" character anywhere in the list of characters - the closest matches are Ilus and Ilioneus. Ilus was the grandfater of Priam, referenced in 10:481. Ilioneus was a very minor Trojan character, suffering a grisly death on Peneleos' spear about five lines after he was introduced in 14:572. Are you referring to one of those two? I don't know how reliable the line numbers are across different translations, but they may be useful.

    Regardless of who this "Ilias" character is, I think it's extremely unlikely the Iliad was named after him. The idea that it's named after Ilium/Ilion seems widespread on the net:

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Iliad
    http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/entertainment/movies/8657862.htm
    http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/barrons/odyssey1.asp

    Of course just because it's said on the net doesn't make it true (though Merriam Webster is a fairly respectable source) - this could just be a popular fallacy. Got any further info about the character Ilias, and any connedtion to Homer's poem?

    And let's note that you said

    The original title contains the word Illias which is the name of the main character

    "The" main character? Whatever you're talking about here, I don't think it's related to the poem by Homer. Here is a list of characters - not complete, but I'd certainly think it gets the main ones at least.
    [ July 05, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
    Joe King
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    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

    Ilias was one of the heroes, like Odyseus (whose travels came to be remembered as the odysee or Odyseia in Greek).

    Really? That's news to me. Does this character appear in the Iliad anywhere? I haven't read it yet, though I have read the Odyssey. I've got a copy of the Iliad here though, English translation by Robert Fagels. I can't find an "Ilias" character anywhere in the list of characters - the closest matches are Ilus and Ilioneus. Ilus was the grandfater of Priam, referenced in 10:481. Ilioneus was a very minor Trojan character, suffering a grisly death on Peneleos' spear about five lines after he was introduced in 14:572. Are you referring to one of those two? I don't know how reliable the line numbers are across different translations, but they may be useful.


    News to me too! I recently read the Iliad, and don't remember the name Ilias showing up anywhere.....but then I did completely miss the fact that Marvin died when I first read the Hitch hiker's Guide books.....

    Trouble is that for books like this we're relying on whatever the translator feels like writing, and unless we read the original we can not really be sure (not that there is an original sitting around anywhere). Does anyone here speak ancient Greek and fancy a bit of translation?
    Helen Thomas
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    Prior to the Simpson case there was no such thing as TV legal analysts. Now our screens are crawling with lawyers offfering instant verdicts on the day's proceeding's in court and indulging in irresponsible speculation.
    Frank Silbermann
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    Originally posted by Helen Thomas:
    The differences are that in Europe:

  • adult witnesses are allowed to submit written statements as evidence
  • witness allowed to give evidence to a court from which the defendant has been removed
  • the prosecution lawyers are widely reported and give televised interviews during the trial


  • In England :

  • The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • the whole point of this judicial system is not to obtain convictions of the guilty but to prevent convictions of the innocent


  • Under a new European-wide arrest warrant anyone in Europe could be facing trial without the protection of an assumption of innocence that is the cornerstone of English law.

    You have to consider the differences in context. English Common Law developed during a time when the average peasant was expected to be skilled at arms. In fact, he was required to practice with the longbow every week, and to be ready to respond at any time to the "hue and cry" that a criminal is on the loose. Felons who got away were deemed "outlaws" -- that is, they were placed outside the protection of the law, so that anyone could legally kill them. One could expect people so fierce and self-reliant to stand before the accused when giving testimony (and not be intimidated). You could risk freeing a person whose guilt was in doubt, because even if he were dangerous the people could be expected to protect themselves from him.

    In France and other parts of Europe, armies relied on the crossbow which, though slower to fire, did not require constant practice. The aristocracy therefore found it convenient to keep the peasantry, protected by gendarmes, unarmed except when going into battle. You could not demand such helpless and dependent people to give testimony in a way that might allow a dangerous criminal to learn their identity. Since the people could not protect themselves from dangerous criminals, courts had to balance the danger of convicting an innocent man against the damage that a freed criminal might do.

    The laws have to work as a system, and now that Great Britain has seen fit to deny the people the right of self-defense, the rights of criminals have become an unaffordable anacronysm.
    Max Habibi
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    For a more detailed analysis, see http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/48senh.pdf, though it's fairly clear from the article that arms in question were designed to be used in matter of war and national defense, rather than criminal activity.
    [ July 06, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
    Warren Dew
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    Great article, Max, thanks!

    it's fairly clear from the article that arms in question were designed to be used in matter of war and national defense, rather than criminal activity

    At least if "national defense" includes "defense by the people of the nation against the government of the nation."
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    Helen: Remember, innocent till proven guilty.

    Here is an interesting comparison of British and American laws regarding libel:

    Britain's libel laws are almost the opposite of those in the United States. In Britain the burden of proof is on the defendant, with the law essentially assuming that a published statement is false and requiring proof that it is true. In the United States, however, if the plaintiff is a public figure, like Mr. Starr, he or she must prove both that what was reported was false and that the publisher either knew that or printed the statements with reckless disregard for their possible falsehood.

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    Alan Wanwierd
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    Travelling to the UK you transit through US? and HAVE to buy a visa? Thats remarkable!

    From where did your journey start? Surely from anywhere West of the Pacific Ocean (i.e. Asia, Australia, Europe)it would be quicker and cheaper to fly westbound to UK thus going nowhere near the US?

    Alternatively if you are commencing your journey West of the UK and East of the pacific you are either already IN the US (in which case you presumable have your visa already) or Canada (and dont need to go via US)... unless of course you are in South America in which case surely you could fly via any of the SA hubs (Buenos Aires? Rio?)

    Speaking of awkward transit routines - I was in transit for 8 hrs in Bogota Colombia about 10 years ago and the seating area and shops/cafes were seperated by 2 layers of security (airport security with dogs, x-rays and pat downs and army - also with dogs x-rays and pat-downs... To get a drink you had to go through the double gauntlet of security, buy your drink and then run the gauntlet again to get back to your seat!! I must have been sniffed by dogs 50 times in that 8 hour period!!! How crazy is that?! Has anyone else experienced this? Or did I just pass through Bogota at a very bad time?
    Nick George
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    nuthin' worse than getting your facts wrong when Jim's on the watch...


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