Ethics for Forensic Psychology, Uncategorized

Adversarial Legal System

An adversarial legal system promotes justice in the courts for those facing charges.  In essence, the fate of the accused is put into the hands of prosecutors and the defense via the presentation of evidence which restricts the judge’s potential of intervening reducing bias in judgement and sentencing due to the (Ogg, 2013).  Lawyers represent the US legal systems adversarial process (fjc.gov ).  Although clients are free to self-represent, Lawyers are necessary to effectively represent the client by presenting evidence and legal argument to the court (fjc.gov).  The presentations of the lawyers are used by judges and juries to determine fact and apply law to reach a decision before judgement is entered (fjc.gov).  Individuals complain that the adversary legal system distorts conclusions by presenting evidence favorable to only one side, but they fail to forget the legal system is designed to uncover truth and deliver justice (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 2008).   All in all, as someone stated earlier, in reality, the judge is a mediator among lawyers and witnesses whose duty is to enforce fairness and justice throughout the process of presenting evidence, this insinuation I also gathered from an article by J.  T.  Ogg (2013).   Ogg’s article compared an adversarial legal system (Australia) to that of an inquisitorial legal system (Italy) who is undergoing legal reform to a more adversarial system such as the US (2013).  The US legal system supports the effort of lawyers, a jury, a judge and witnesses to present evidence that decides the fate of an accused offender.  The US legal system supports the right to a fair and speedy trial in which justice is served based upon the evidential narrative presented in the courtroom (Neal, 2016).  I found it interesting that in an inquisitorial legal system, there is little structure and side comments are permitted even between the principle judge and the side judge who conducts the jury deliberation process as well as among the media and bystanders, and anyone else walking in and out of the courtroom throughout the trial (I picture a commotion throughout the process) (Ogg, 2013).  Due to the comparison article, I understand and agree with the structure of the adversarial system, but I also have to agree with Neal’s article which claims it as a narrative that paints a picture open to bias and unjustified scrutiny that may lead to an injustice being served (2016).

I think it is important for a Forensic psychology specialist to know their personal beliefs and values and the potential they hold in causing bias.  I think the professional needs to be able to separate personal beliefs from professional work in order to maximize the effect of their work.  I also think that he or she should be able to maintain an open attitude and mindset as he or she will be scrutinized or even badgered if taking the stand as the advocates (lawyers) probe their intellect to seek out the most beneficial evidence.  Additionally, remaining impartial is necessitated and will lead to the best outcome.  To sum it up, he or she should familiarize themselves with the expectation of the APA Code of Ethics and the Forensic guidelines in order to maintain ethicality.

fjc.gov. (). Retrieved from http://www.fjc.gov/public/pdf.nsf/lookup/U.S._Legal_System_English07.pdf/$file/U.S._Legal_System_English07.pdf

Melton, G. B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (2008). Psychological
evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals
and lawyers
. (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Neal, T. M. S. (2016). Are Forensic Experts Already Biased before Adversarial Legal Parties Hire Them? PLoS ONE11(4), e0154434. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154434

Ogg, J. T. (2013). Adversary and adversity: Converging adversarial and inquisitorial systems of justice – a case study of the italian criminal trial reforms.International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 37(1), 31-61. Retrieved from https://login.libproxy.edmc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1492865413?accountid=34899

 

 

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