Originally Posted by Ryano
Tann, everyone can have an opinion on anything. Gaspers experience on the "inside" should indicate that his opinion based on actual experience should carry more weight than any uninformed opinion. Hence the reasoning that the only time an opinion can be given in a trial is by someone deamed an "expert" by the court. I have testified on numerous occasions in criminal trials as an "expert". I gave my opinion and the jury takes that into consideration. Have there been wrongfully convicted. Yes, unfortunately, but our criminal justice system is only as good as the people sitting in the jury box. Many,many,many more people are "let go" from crimes they did commit than are wrongfully convicted. I've seen people walk out of a courtroom a free person when I KNOW they commited the crime. The jury does not always get to see/hear all of the evidence. In my 25+ years in law enforcement, I know of only 1 case where a person that I arrested, may have been innocent and he plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a prison sentence.
I agree with most of what you've said, especially on your assertion that many more guilty people go free than innocent people are convicted. Absolutely. And I am not rubbishing the justice system.
As you point out, however, the criminal justice system is only as good as the jury. My point is that the jury aren't necessarily that good when it comes specifically to interpreting expert evidence, especially scientific evidence. Many juries in the US and UK found the baby-shakers guilty; many of those convictions have been quashed. The juries put too much faith in the scientific evidence they were presented with. Isolated cases? Maybe, but the point stands.
On the subject of personal experience and validity, well, that's an interesting discussion. Now for me, I've got 23 years experience in education. If someone tries to tell me about the fine print of working in education, my opinion is based on first hand knowledge of what that is like, unlike theirs.
However, if an outsider to my profession finds out that 65% of people working in education have terrible fashion sense
and his sources seem good, and his argument is clear, then the fact that he isn't from inside education doesn't make his opinion invalid. I can respond 'Well, I've worked within education for 23 years, and everyone I've ever worked with was gorgeously dressed', but then, I'm only speaking from a detailed but tiny section of the world. His lack of detailed knowledge of my section of the world doesn't make his argument invalid - that needs to be considered on its own merits.
So while I defer to your and Gasper's decades of actual experience within the system, broader issues of how justice works, or more philosophical questions, are open to anyone. So my baby-shakers case, for example, is either a valid or invalid point. It's independent of whether I'm a cop, a criminal or a tree-surgeon.