Some people who comment on cases may not be fully aware of the danger of pride and prejudice to innocent defendants.
- Pride is dangerous because many people are afraid to admit they were mistaken, for fear of damaging their reputation.
- Some people believe the cure is to simply remain neutral in public and not express any firm opinion.
- For journalists who do not research cases in any detail, this is perhaps the wisest solution.
Prejudice against innocent defendants can occur in many different ways.
- Failure to obtain legal counsel
- Existing fame
- Being an attractive woman
- Premature arrest
- Tunnel vision : failure to investigate all suspects
- Failure to identify guilty party
- Evidence destroyed by police and/or prosecution
- Evidence manufactured by police, prosecution or other parties
- Evidence held to be inadmissible by a court
- Tampering or suppression of trial record / exhibits
- Defense case may be withheld for tactical reasons
- Truth remains hidden
- Television or radio broadcasts ,
- “True crime” books
- Be aware of the sources of prejudice listed above
- Be sceptical about any source that seems one-sided
- Be sceptical about police or ex-police sources
- Do not express an opinion on a case without being aware of the prosecution and defense case.
- It may be necessary to consult primary sources, where reliable secondary sources are not available.
- Nothing can be certain, but if all the facts have a clear explanation, you are probably correct.
- Sometimes the required information to draw a firm conclusion may not be available – reasonable doubt.
- If you find discussing a case distressing or are reluctant to look at some new information from a credible source, your conclusion about the case is probably wrong.
- If you are puzzled by some or many aspects of a case, your conclusion (if you have one) is likely wrong due to a combination of pride and prejudice.