This is an issue that has long bugged me. I have no legal training so I’d appreciate any comments from lawyers or law students who could correct or confirm my understanding.
Once “patterns based evidence” was admissible in our law courts. Now it usually isn’t.
To illustrate; say a man was on trial for burglary and arson. He was apprehended near a break- in wearing green rubber gloves and carrying a small chisel and a cigarette lighter.
He has three previous convictions for burglary/arson. Each time previously he wore green rubber gloves, gained entry by using a chisel and started the fire with a lighter.
He is put on trial and the “patterns based evidence” is enough to convince the jury to convict.
Eliminate “patterns based evidence” and a conviction becomes far less likely. The jury can only consider the fact that he was wearing gloves and carrying a chisel and lighter. They are not allowed to know anything about his past criminal patterns, or even convictions.
Past behaviour is the best indication of future behaviour. If a man has been convicted for a previous rape and is on trial for another; why should the jury not be entitled to know about his past proven offending?
Conversely, if a woman complains of rape, but has a record of making false complaints to the police about other matters, why should a jury be denied this knowledge?
To limit a jury’s knowledge to only the facts of the case before them is to reduce their ability to make sound judgments.
It is a recipe for injustice. The readmission of “patterns based evidence” into the legal system would give jurors a far more comprehensive view of the cases before them.
It isn’t politically correct to allow a defendant’s or complainant’s past record into court, but it is fair and just.
Any comments from lawyers, law students or “bush lawyers”?