[WikiEN-l] Violent threats and Armed Blowfish

Sheldon Rampton sheldon at prwatch.org
Wed Feb 27 16:18:13 UTC 2008

Thomas Dalton wrote:

> All of those things, as stated earlier, reflect poorly. Convicting
> someone of a crime should be on the basis of an accusation by a named,
> identifiable accuser who can be confronted by the accused (subject to
> observation in the courtroom, of course, and intimidation and the like
> should be strictly disallowed), not something else. One should never
> be convicted or imprisoned on a basis like this: "Well who said I did
> something wrong?" "Well we can't tell you that, but here's a scrambled
> videotape of their accusation." "Well that's not true, I want to
> cross-examine them! And I want to know who they are, what if it's
> someone who has a grudge against me?" "Sorry, won't be possible."

I never said anything about a "scrambled videotape" or suggested that  
people on trial should not be allowed to know the identities of their  
accusers. I said that in some cases measures are taken to protect  
vulnerable victims (such as children who have been molested) from  
having to testify in front of the person who is accused of their  
abuse. This does NOT involve "scrambled" videotape, and the identity  
of the victim is not withheld from the accused. Sometimes the victim  
is kept from having to testify through negotiations; for example, a  
perpetrator may know that conviction is inevitable and may choose to  
forego the opportunity to cross-examine the victim in exchange for  
some sort of plea-bargaining consideration. Other times the  
prosecution may protect the victim from testifying by using other  
evidence to build its case; for example, a forensics expert could  
testify about bruises found on the victim, or about semen that matched  
the DNA of the accused individual (and of course the defense has the  
opportunity to cross-examine the forensics expert).

My main point, though, which Thomas Dalton seems to have completely  
forgotten in the course of his revery, is that there is no requirement  
for disclosing the identity of the victim OUTSIDE THE COURT,  
especially in cases of sensitive crimes. I agree with Thomas that  
accused individuals should have the right to confront their accusers  
(with the clarification that "victim" and "accuser" are not  
necessarily the same individual). However, it would also be bad if we  
had a court system which automatically published the identities of all  
victims of crimes.

|  Sheldon Rampton
|  Research director, Center for Media & Democracy (www.prwatch.org)
|  Author of books including:
|     Friends In Deed: The Story of US-Nicaragua Sister Cities
|     Toxic Sludge Is Good For You
|     Mad Cow USA
|     Trust Us, We're Experts
|     Weapons of Mass Deception
|     Banana Republicans
|     The Best War Ever
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