Policy Level Ethical Issues in Criminal Courts and the Legal System
Ethics in policy making and application of ethics in criminal courts and legal system is a critical factor for systemic transparency. Policy makers are faced with the daunting task of creating an electoral system that reflects the will of the people. However, varied opinions make it hard to achieve this ideal. One ethical issue that policy makers and legal practitioners face is determination of the depth or scope of application of a particular law. Some laws may reflect a subjective will of the people. For instance, the media may sensationalize a case demanding severe penalties while the legal frameworks may have limitations to the sentencing.
The other ethical issue is miscarriage of justice. Bribery, falsified testimonies, and fabricated evidence obscure true justice leading to miscarriage of justice. Policy makers fail to come up with a comprehensive way to address miscarriage of justice. On the other hand, some legal practitioners selectively apply the law for self-gratification through financial gains.
Another ethical issue is unnecessary delays in case proceedings. There are no policies that define the maximum time a case should take. This makes it easier for practitioners to delay cases as they deem appropriate.
Another ethical issue is limited alternatives to fines and imprisonment. Policy makers rely on these two options when formulating laws and implications for offenders. On the other hand, judges and lawyers rely on these two options to deliberate on the punitive measure to accord an offender. Nonetheless, this limitation makes it easier to manipulate the scope of application based on personal or subjective opinion.
Ethical Dilemmas for Legal Practitioners
Legal practitioners are faced with many ethical dilemmas. First, the defence counsel has a duty and obligation to the client. It is the responsibility of the defence counsel to ensure that the judgement favours the client whether the client is guilty or not. On the other hand, the defence counsel wrestles with the legal obligation to uphold ‘justice’. In many cases, the defence counsel is faced with the decision to supress justice and ‘save’ the client or upholds ‘justice’ at the expense of the client.
The defence counsel is left with an ethical dilemma bound by the vow of confidentiality despite having knowledge of the defendant’s guilt of the crime committed. The client confides with the defence counsel so that the counsel can manipulate the system to appear ‘innocent’ or less-guilty of the charges.
Another ethical dilemma is conflict of interest. A defence counsel can take up a case, or drop a case for personal, political, or financial interest. This means that the arguments fronted are subjective to ensure that the jury uses a limited set of evidence or information in making their ruling.
On the other hand, a judge can, at his/ her discretion, make rulings with a conflict of interest leading to miscarriage...