As a Swede I often find myself stunned by the “magical” thinking of the U.S. justice system and the, often times, completely bizarre “tricks” pulled to get obviously guilty persons off the hook.
Take for instance “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”, described as…
…a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source (the “tree”) of the evidence or evidence itself is tainted, then anything gained (the “fruit”) from it is tainted as well. (Wikipedia)
Say, for instance, law enforcement recording a video of a murder without having the proper paperwork for performing the surveillance.
According to this metaphor, since the papers weren’t in order, the murder probably never happened and the whole video is inadmissible in court. With a little luck the murderer is back home in time for dinner, and afterward, he can have another murder as dessert.
This is all very good and right and proper… because if it’s true for a tree and a fruit, then obviously it’s true for a surveillance video and a murder as well. Right?
The whole procedure feels like if you meet a hungry polar bear and it wants to eat you, put your fingers in your ears and close your eyes… because then the bear doesn’t exist anymore… right?
By the way, forget about comparing apples and oranges… this is black belt comparison…
Apples and murders!
Now, for a more serious note on the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” and other similar tricks…
These kinds of practices clearly show that there is an inherent distrust of the justice system and the police authority.
And it is sanctioned by the justice system itself.
Why then, should a citizen trust the justice system? Why turn up in court if the court can’t be trusted without magical thinking and irrelevant metaphors like poisonous trees?
So what would happen in Sweden if a law enforcement officer made an illegal video recording of a murder?
Surprise, surprise! The officer would be tried and prosecuted for any crimes committed… but the murder has obviously happened, it’s recorded, so the video is used in court to prosecute the murderer.
Oh, and no… if the murderer is found guilty, he only goes to jail… he doesn’t get electrocuted, hanged, run over by trucks, eaten by gorillas, or put to death in any other way…
…we’re grown up enough to recognize that we cannot be 100% perfect 100% of the time… so we stay clear of 100% permanent punishments…
…which (the death penalty) is just another thing about the American justice system that totally baffles me…