It sometimes feels the Arlo Guthrie was a prophet. The Alice’s Restaurant Massacre of 1967 featured a case of circumstantial evidence, in which a single envelope bearing the name and address of said Arlo Guthrie was discovered under a half ton of garbage. This important forensic find prompted the “takin’ plaster tire tracks, footprints, dog-smellin’ prints and they took twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin’ what each one was, to be used as evidence against us took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner, the southwest corner and that’s not to mention the aerial photography!” This of course came before the court where a “man came in, said, “All rise!” We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty-seven 8 times 10 colored glossy pictures, and the judge walked in, sat down, with a seein’ eye dog and he sat down. We sat down.”
Yes, justice can be blind in this way. It isn’t “blind” as in unbiased, but blind as in, “not seeing the what’s really important.” I will not go so far as to say “if we test less we will have fewer cases,” or its parallel, “if we had had fewer laws we’d have fewer law breakers.” What I am saying is that the exercise of, often sensible, statutes is marred by faulty application. What the judicial mechanism prioritises, and therefore applies is often not fit for purpose.
An example of this is the recent lockdown restrictions here in the UK. Covid 19 is a real threat. Fair enough, but a restriction which said that we should be safely locked into our own homes except for getting a single period of outdoor exercise, led to the police fining said exercise-enthusiasts for resting on a bench for a moment after a run. This is a poor example, but it is one of the “forest for the trees” kind of blindnesses I have referenced above.
I will stop my rant here before I even start to ethnic or age-related profiling. But in the end is justice blind? Yes, but not in the way it is meant to be.
Fandango’s Provocative Question #77:
Do you believe, with respect to the judicial system (or systems) in place where you live, that justice is, indeed, blind? Why do you feel that way?