Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
University of Earth Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

8 February 2002

Warping the Judgement of Dissenting Opinion

Source Materials

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Annex to Warping the Judgement of Dissenting Opinion: towards a general framework for comparing distortion in rules of evidence


Introduction
Influence of values and ideologies
Source materials [this document]
-- Useful case studies for historical comparison (Annex B)
-- Rules of evidence in normal legal process
-- Rules of evidence in international trials and tribunals
-- Rules of evidence in 'extra-legal' 'trials'and judgements (possibly based on ethical codes)
-- Sectors extending the challenge of refining rules of evidence
-- Assessment and evaluation
-- Alternative frameworks and belief systems (appeals to other forms of reason)
-- Issues relating to evidence and argument
-- Distinguishing terrorists from freedom fighters and change agents Propaganda, credibility and 'smear-and-fear'
Definitional game-playing
Conclusion
References

Useful case studies for historical comparison

Presented as Annex B containing:

Star Chamber
Catholic Inquisition
Trials under 'Protestantism'
Trials under French Revolution
Trials under Soviet Communism
Trials under Fascism
Trials under Chinese Communism
Trials under Khmer Rouge Communism
Trials under Cuban Communism
Trials under South African apartheid
Trials under Taliban application of Islamic law (sharia)
Military tribunals and war crimes
Judicial investigation of statesmen
Famous 'political' trials

Rules of evidence in normal legal process

Rules of evidence in international trials and tribunals

Rules of evidence in 'extra-legal' 'trials' and judgements (possibly based on ethical codes)

Sectors extending the challenge of refining rules of evidence

Assessment and evaluation -- incomplete)

Each of the following suggests different approaches to evidence. Each may well imply a different quality and solidity to the evidence.

Alternative frameworks and belief systems (appeals to other forms of reason)

As noted earlier, a number of attempts have been made to provide frameworks identifying the range of cultural frameworks that may strongly affect the way evidence is presented or interpreted [more]. Every language could even be understood as such an alternative framework. Some specific examples of situations where be evidence may be selected and interpreted differently are:

Some of these frameworks take a very radical approach to evidence considered 'solid' by the mainstream mindsets favoured by the western-dominated international community. The relationship between Buddhist meditation and personal construct psychology provides an example [more]. The uncompromising evidence for 'individuality', for example, is challenged by those more persuaded by insights into 'community'. As another example, what exactly is the evidence for the existence of a nation-state like the USA? Its existence is primarily a matter of affirmation -- a collective construct to which people may be required to express allegiance as to the Gods of Rome or Athens. Assertions may be made about its boundaries and land surface, about which 'evidence' may be collected. But for some the manner in which they form the 'USA' is essentially as a social construct and a matter of consensus [more; more] -- reflected in a pattern of laws and treaties that are designed to formalize that construct. Evidence may be adduced for its action as a whole, and its unique skill in doing so (namely its operacy). How exactly does such evidence differ from that for the gods of the classical period -- who had temples constructed that served like the ministeries of the nations of today? Kenneth Boulding makes a related point in relation to understanding of the individual:

"Our consciousness of the unity of the self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of a group, organization, department, discipline, or science. If personification is only a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors - we might be one ourselves." (Ecodynamics; a new theory of societal evolution. Sage, 1978 , p. 345)

Such queries are only trivial if the belief in the immediate reality of the afterlife, by some, is to be considered trivial in a world riven by religiously sustained conflicts.

Issues relating to evidence and argument

The following points have now acquired renewed significance in a context in which the international rule of law has been overturned or severely handicapped [more]. The response to terrorism has now seen the emergence of provisions for seizing suspects without charges, holding them incommunicado (notably without access to any lawyer), strong recommendation for the use of physical violence (including torture), secret trials, non-disclosure of transcripts of proceedings -- in fact every abuse which western civilization has endeavoured to safeguard against. From recognition by the USA of evidence for the existence of 'crazy' or 'rogue states' that defied the norms of the international community of which it was a principal defender [more; more; more] , the USA has itself now come to be perceived by many as a 'rogue state' in the light of evidence of its defiance of international law [more; more; more; more; more; more] -- and indeed has decided to cease its use of that descriptor of others [more].

In dealing with terrorist suspects in 'military tribunals' (following a presidential executive order of 11 November 2001), the US Secretary of Defense will appoint the judges, most likely military officers, who will decide both questions of law and fact. Unlike federal judges who are appointed for life, these officers will have little independence and every reason to decide in favor of the prosecution. Normal rules of evidence, which provide some assurance of reliability, will not apply. Hearsay and even evidence obtained from torture will apparently be admissible. This is particularly frightening in light of the intimations from U.S. officials that torture of suspects may be an option -- and that there is no possibility of confirming the veracity of statements that it is not being used. Rules of evidence help insure the innocent are spared, but also that law enforcement authorities adhere to what many thought were evolving standards of a civilized society [more]. Protests have been articulated [more; more].

Distinguishing terrorists from freedom fighters and change agents

In all these cases there is a special danger that the existence of the category 'terrorist' enables some, whether deliberately or inadvertently, to falsely label social actors in the light of inappropriate use of evidence.

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