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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Presumption of 'innocence' vs 'guilt' & the Japanese police

    The lattest discussion about the Japanese police's way of dealing with foreigners (this thread) brought on me some kind of revelation as to why some Westerners like me complain have problems with the Japanese police. It is all related to the concept of presumption of innocence, which apparently is not one of the fundamental rights of the Japanese code of laws.

    The French and Belgian constitutions say that "Every man is supposed innocent until having been declared guilty". The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: "Any person charged with an offence has the right ... to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal".

    However, many other countries do not have presumption of innocence in their constitution or charter of fundamental rights. The US has a very different approach, as suspect are told the Miranda Rights ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, etc.") which somewhat presumes the suspect NOT to be innocent.

    That is maybe why I am so shocked to see how in the USA and Japan suspects (NOT convicted criminals or people arrested red-handed) are typically handcuffed and interrogated with little respect as if they were indeed criminals. In Belgium or France (and several other European countries) suspects are treated with respect, rarely taken by force or handcuffed (except if there are witnesses or they are armed). Interrogation would never include verbal abuse, harassment, sleep deprivation or physical violence for some suspected of an offence or a minor crime (i.e. almost anything but armed robbery, rape and murder). This is obviously because a suspect is just a suspect and not guilty until proven to be guilty. So in people's mind, as the suspect is automatically presumed innocent, interrogations must be civil and respectful, as the police could otherwise be sued for abuse of power.

    Add to this that the Japanese police has the right to detain and interrogate a suspect for up to 21 days without any evidence or proof ! This is a complete abuse of power in my eyes. In most Western countries that period does not exceed 96h for serious crimes, but often no more than a few hours.

    So reading the article (not the first, not the last) about that Westerner interrogated quite viciously by the Japanese police for 22h over 3 days, just for pushing someone (a very minor crime), which was not even proven... that's just beyond anything I would consider acceptable.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    23 days. I keep posting that, and nobody ever seems to pick up on it.

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    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    However, many other countries do not have presumption of innocence in their constitution or charter of fundamental rights. The US has a very different approach, as suspect are told the Miranda Rights ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, etc.") which somewhat presumes the suspect NOT to be innocent.
    Actually, the presumption of innocence is a very important part of the American legal system. Mirandizing suspects when they are arrested is so they are aware of their rights, and that they are not required to say anything at all to the police. Suspects who are not mirandized and confess without knowing their rights could later claim that their rights were violated, making their confession inadmissable in court. It is for this reason that it's very important to follow this procedure, it's not an implication of guilt, it's standard protocol.

    In fact, the suspect does not have to say anything at all in his defence at the trial; all of the burden is placed on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is actually guilty of the crime. If they cannot do that the defence can rest without uttering a word.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Yes, but Miranda or not, one should not get body searched and handcuffed for speeding or stealing something. It's not like they are cold-blooded murderers.

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    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yes, but Miranda or not, one should not get body searched and handcuffed for speeding or stealing something. It's not like they are cold-blooded murderers.

    What if he/she was hiding what they stole on their person. Shouldn't they be searched? What if they are hiding a weapon? Should I allow them to keep it....just so that I don't make them feel like a criminal!

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    What if he/she was hiding what they stole on their person. Shouldn't they be searched? What if they are hiding a weapon? Should I allow them to keep it....just so that I don't make them feel like a criminal!
    What about the handcuffs then ? It may not be an accurate reflection of reality, but when I watch American series like CSI or Ally McBeal (very different series), I see people getting handcuffed for wearing a too short skirt in court (Ally McBeal), for making someone trip in a supermarket 'by accident' (again, Ally McBeal), or for small offences like that. When it comes to arresting suspects of serious crimes, they are 5 police cars full of policemen with guns drawn and shouting "drop your weapon" or "put your hands behind your head". This is typically American. Never seen that in Europe.

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    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What about the handcuffs then ? It may not be an accurate reflection of reality, but when I watch American series like CSI or Ally McBeal (very different series), I see people getting handcuffed for wearing a too short skirt in court (Ally McBeal), for making someone trip in a supermarket 'by accident' (again, Ally McBeal), or for small offences like that. When it comes to arresting suspects of serious crimes, they are 5 police cars full of policemen with guns drawn and shouting "drop your weapon" or "put your hands behind your head". This is typically American. Never seen that in Europe.

    Alley McBeal is a TV show....a comedy at that! Please don't take it as a serious reflection of society.

    All people being arrested are put into handcuffs because it is procedure. When procedures are not followed, usually someone will be hurt or killed.

    As for 5-6 police cars arriving to arrest someone...it happens, but not as often as you see on TV. If the person in question shot/hurt someone, or has been eluding capture then it is more possible to see this type of activity. If someone was caught shoplifting then usually only one car...maybe two.

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    Drunken Japanese drivers like ones in TV programs like Japan Police 24hr must get shot in the US, I suppose.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yes, but Miranda or not, one should not get body searched and handcuffed for speeding or stealing something. It's not like they are cold-blooded murderers.
    You were saying?.....

    http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/news...TRIPSEARCH.XML

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Cash
    I only have 2 things to say :

    1) the World Cup is a very special event with a serious threat of hooliganism or other types of violence (dozens of people have died in some football matches dur to hooligans in Europe in the past).

    2) As I said above, the German legal system is not in the same category as the one in Latin countries. It is closer to the Japanese legal system, and maybe halfway to common law countries.

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    >Maciamo
    “ú–{‚ÌŽi–@§“x‚ɑ΂·‚é’mŽ¯‚Ì’ö“x‚ðŒ©‚Ä‚àA‚ ‚È‚½‚É ŒYŽ–§“x‚ÉŠÖ‚·‚鍑Û”äŠr‚ðŒê‚é‚Ù‚Ç‚Ì’mŒ©‚ª‚ ‚é‚Æ‚Í Žv‚¦‚Ü‚¹‚ñ‚ªA
    uMarc DutrouxŽ–Œv‚ðŒ©‚éŒÀ‚èAƒxƒ‹ƒM[“–‹Ç‚Ì—e‹^ŽÒ‚ɑ΂·‚é‘Ήž‚́AŠm‚©‚É‚¸‚¢‚Ô‚ñ‚Ɓu‰¸‚â ‚©v‚Ȃ悤‚Å‚·‚ˁB
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Dutroux
    Last edited by kkkktttt; Jun 9, 2006 at 08:43.

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    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    searching and handcuffing a suspect (after arrest) is a precautionary act to prevent unpredictable violent behavior, for the suspect's and officer's welfare. An uncuffed, unsearched suspect is capable of producing a weapon and hurting himself and others, regardless of the arresting offense. I'm not sure if it's up to the officer's discretion to handcuff all arrests, but I'm sure searches are mandatory.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nice gaijin
    searching and handcuffing a suspect (after arrest) is a precautionary act to prevent unpredictable violent behavior, for the suspect's and officer's welfare.
    I guess it is necessary in such a violent society as the US, where anybody can carry a firearm. Here the police only bodysearch or handcuffs people who they know are armed because they have just shot someone - and it is so rare that I have never seen it, apart maybe once or twice on TV (in all my life).

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    Armand's Rancho del Cielo

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    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    Sharp objects are usually of more concern than firearms, as they are much more commonly carried and easier to conceal. Anything from needles to box cutters to knives pose a much more immediate threat; In fact, in close quarters, knives are considered just as or more dangerous than firearms.

    Also it's important to note that to legally carry a gun, one must have a CCW (carry concealed weapons) permit (at least in California), but people carry firearms illegally in pretty much every country.

    Just like looking to anime for an accurate depiction of Japan, one can't expect Ally McBeal or even CSI to paint an accurate picture of America.

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    ŽO“ú–VŽå Mukade's Avatar
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    Yes, please keep in mind that things done on a television program are done for dramatic effect, not to convey real, mundane events.

    Typically, the cops in the US won't search you unless they have reasonable cause to suspect that you are carrying a concealed weapon, drugs or stolen goods.

    They don't just automatically search everyone for every type of offense.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Somewhere in outer space, a society of aliens is just now receiving the signals from the earliest days of broadcast television and their best scholars are self-assuredly putting together great, comprehensive theses regarding American society.....based on I Love Lucy.

    Here on earth....we giggle at the thought of it, while not doing one hell of a lot better job than the space aliens are at precisely the same task.

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    Regular Member Reiku's Avatar
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    The thing is, while tv shows may exaggerate things a bit, I have to say it's not altogether inaccurate.

    The "innocent until proven guilty" bit is a total lie in the US--something I didn't learn until I was sent to juvinile hall becase somone claimed I had assaulted them. (they were lying)

    I was handcuffed, put in the back of a patrol car, and taken to juvinile hall where I spent months awaiting trial without ever being given a chance to defend myself. Or rather, that when I did tell someone I was innocent, I was ignored--or worse, ridiculed. Of course, everyone in jail says they're innocent.

    After months of being strip searched, harassed by other inmates, and narrowly avoiding being attacked on numerous occasions, I finally had my day in court--with no jury, and my court appointed lawyer would not allow either me or my mother to speak on my behalf.

    Fortunately, the woman who accused me eventually dropped the charges and the records were sealed so that I didn't have to go through life with an arrest record. (Just being arrested makes it hard to get a job or get into a good school, even if the case never went to court or you were proven innocent)

    Where in that situation was I presumed innocent?

    The only "presumtion of innocence" was my naive and innocent presumtion that I had rights.

    And it wasn't just me, in every court case I've ever seen or heard of, the majority of people assume the defendant is guilty--including the police. When they arrest you, they don't treat you as a suspect--they treat you as a criminal, and if you are accused of a particularly offensive crime you will be lucky to live to your court date.

    I get really tired of people who say things like "the presumption of innocence is a very important part of the American legal system." or "short of a suspect actively threatening others' lives, there isn't much they could do to get a cop to use deadly force on them", because they obviously don't know what they are talking about.

    Police will be nice and polite and considerate to people they like, but if they see you as a criminal--regardless of any evidence--they will not show you the same respect. I've been attacked by a gang of people twice my size, I've had a gun pointed at me, I've had to leapfrog off the hood of a car to avoid being hit by it, I've been nearly killed by an electrical shock, I've almost drowned at least three times, and I've laid on a couch, unable to speak, as my heartbeat and respiration slowly dropped to almost nothing as I experienced a near-fatal allergic reation to a tetenaus vaccination--but nothing I've experienced is as frightening as dealing with a police officer who think's you're guilty.

    ...and if you're poor, half-mexican, and scary-looking like I am, they usually think you're guilty.
    Baka ningen.

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    Veni, vidi... vicodin? GodEmperorLeto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    The US has a very different approach, as suspect are told the Miranda Rights ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, etc.") which somewhat presumes the suspect NOT to be innocent.
    As was previously stated, these rights are informing the suspect that they need not respond to a police interrogation without legal counsel. That doesn't mean the cops won't try their damndest to get them to crack. Ever see The Usual Suspects? U.S. cops aren't the most intelligent people on earth (in general), and the detective in that movie proves it by saying, "If a man is dead, and you think his brother did it, you find out you were right."

    It is the courts that determine guilt or innocence. The cops just do everything they can to get you to confess (short of physical abuse, which they occasionally do, but don't always get away with).

    That is maybe why I am so shocked to see how in the USA and Japan suspects (NOT convicted criminals or people arrested red-handed) are typically handcuffed and interrogated with little respect as if they were indeed criminals.
    It's like nice_gaijin said. They take no chances. Being a police officer in the U.S. is very dangerous, and it isn't always just the yahoos with guns. It can be anyone who is having a bad day or with a few loose screws in their head. I knew a guy who, while cuffed, kicked the door to the police cruiser off (literally, he demolished it), jumped out while it was still moving, and ran 3 miles home. People are capable of anything.

    Dunno about Japan though.

    Yes, but Miranda or not, one should not get body searched and handcuffed for speeding or stealing something. It's not like they are cold-blooded murderers.
    For speeding excessively, yeah, you can get taken downtown. But unless the officer is a real jerk, or has enough reason to, he/she probably won't do any of that if it was only 10 or 20 over the limit.

    I guess it is necessary in such a violent society as the US, where anybody can carry a firearm.
    Yeah, um, we aren't that violent. It is extremely hard to get guns in many states, especially in urban areas. Most criminals who have guns got them illegally (i.e. they are stolen, illegally imported, etc.). If you want so much as a .22 Ruger practice rifle you need a thorough background check and your weapon must be registered with the police and goes on your permanent record. If you want to carry a weapon unconcealed on your person, it is even more difficult to get a permit. And it is damn near impossible to get a concealed weapon permit unless you are already a cop. Even blades longer than 8 inches require a permit. You can't just walk down to the corner store and buy an AK-47, contrary to common misconceptions.

    It may not be an accurate reflection of reality, but when I watch American series like CSI or Ally McBeal (very different series), I see people getting handcuffed for wearing a too short skirt in court (Ally McBeal), for making someone trip in a supermarket 'by accident' (again, Ally McBeal), or for small offences like that.
    That is far, far from reality. Besides, Ally McBeal? Come on.

    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    Drunken Japanese drivers like ones in TV programs like Japan Police 24hr must get shot in the US, I suppose.
    We have a ton of police-chase TV specials every month. Cops rarely use deadly force for them, unless the suspect is actively trying to kill people. Sometimes it's just some really dumb ***** who would have just had a speeding ticket, but decides he wants to try to run for it instead. Yeah, right, police cruisers are often seriously souped up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reiku
    I was handcuffed, put in the back of a patrol car, and taken to juvinile hall where I spent months awaiting trial without ever being given a chance to defend myself.
    This has happened to someone I know. Oh, and, surprise, surprise, he was a WASP. Regardless, a public defender found him languishing, awaiting a court date while on a routine visit to a client, and managed to get him out. It's bureaucracy and pencil-pushers that are your enemy here, not the old white guys sitting in judgement over you.

    Besides, plenty of people get convicted of crimes they didn't commit because of bad jury selection practices, and also because people don't understand concepts like jury nullification (which goes back to Elizabethan England). In fact, some people who are acquitted still suffer from ruined lives, like plenty of teachers and principals accused of "molesting" students, students who later come clean and admit they lied, but the defendant still has to live in shame and can never work in that field again.

    The only "presumtion of innocence" was my naive and innocent presumtion that I had rights.
    The moment you decide that for yourself is the moment you waive your rights. There is nothing more powerful in the United States than an informed citizen. Indeed, the police often fear you and legal councils will respect you if you educate yourself in the law. The power is in your hands, and I have seen what it can do with a number of well-informed, intelligent citizens.

    I get really tired of people who say things like "the presumption of innocence is a very important part of the American legal system." or "short of a suspect actively threatening others' lives, there isn't much they could do to get a cop to use deadly force on them", because they obviously don't know what they are talking about.
    ...
    ...and if you're poor, half-mexican, and scary-looking like I am, they usually think you're guilty.
    Uh-huh. Well, I'm glad your fair and unbalanced opinion has been voiced on this forum. Perhaps you'd like a taste of the Napoleonic Code? Or maybe you'd like to convert from Islam to Christianity in Saudi Arabia?

    The police and the prosecutor aren't supposed to think you are innocent. And the jury is supposed to decide guilt or innocence. Not the police. It has nothing to do with poor, half-Mexican, or scary-looking. That's your excuse, and everything else you've said is a cop out. You can educate yourself or you can continue playing the victim card. It's your choice.

  20. #20
    Regular Member Reiku's Avatar
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    You hear a person complain that the judicial system is unfair, then cite racism against hispanics as a reason, and assume I am uneducated?

    At the risk of fitting into your stereotype, there's a hint of racism in your reaction as well, Leto.

    Perhaps you confused me with the "poor dumb minority bitching about his rights"?

    Deny it all you like, you response shows your presumptions about me clearly. Although I'm willing to bet you weren't aware of the prejudice coloring your opinion--most people aren't...

    ...and that's the point.

    Despite the written law, people in the US are not always presumed inocent--most of the time they are presumed guilty.

    It is a natural human reaction, and you cannot overide human emotion with laws. You yourself have supported this point:

    Quote Originally Posted by GodEmperorLeto
    In fact, some people who are acquitted still suffer from ruined lives, like plenty of teachers and principals accused of "molesting" students, students who later come clean and admit they lied, but the defendant still has to live in shame and can never work in that field again.
    Despite what some people think, police and judges are still human, and subject to the same prejudices and frailties as the rest of us. The natural tendancy to assume a suspect's guilt does not dissapear the moment you put on a badge--if anything, the situation becomes worse. Because they see themselves as agents of justice, a police officer or judge who assumes a person's guilt may feel driven to prove or punish that guilt--without realizing that they have jumped to a conclusion based on personal bias.

    Not unlike you assuming that I was ignorant of the law--I'm actually quite well versed in it. Sociology has always interested me, and you can learn a lot about a culture by studying it's laws. I've been studying the laws of our culture for most of my life, and I've learned that laws cannot dictate emotional responses, such as bigotry or the presumtion of guilt or innocence. Sometimes laws can prevent a person from acting on those responses, but more often than not suspects in the US are assumed to be guilty--regardless of what it says on paper.

    Don't mistake first-hand experiance for personal bias, Leto, and don't mistake rash judgements for wisdom.
    Last edited by Reiku; Jun 10, 2006 at 23:26.

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    Veni, vidi... vicodin? GodEmperorLeto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reiku
    You hear a person complain that the judicial system is unfair, then cite racism against hispanics as a reason, and assume I am uneducated?
    At the risk of fitting into your stereotype, there's a hint of racism in your reaction as well, Leto.
    I was responding to the fact that you opened the door to race being a factor in how you were being treated. To quote you:
    ...and if you're poor, half-mexican, and scary-looking like I am, they usually think you're guilty.
    I didn't cite racism, you did right there. Whether you intended to or not, you made it a racial issue. I cited the incident of my friend being a WASP to counter any attempt at establishing racism as a motivating factor in bad bureaucracy, as well as to point out that your experience was neither unique, nor due to "innocence vs. guilt" assumptions. Any racism you percieved there, you inserted yourself. In addition, any connection you percieve between your incident and "innocence vs. guilt" presumptions in the judicial system are red herrings.

    Perhaps you confused me with the "poor dumb minority bitching about his rights"?
    Absolutely not. But I know plenty of college-educated people who don't know a damn about the law and get taken for a ride, then sit around and complain about it rather than doing something constructive.
    By the way, lay off the ad hominem attacks. They don't support your argument.

    Deny it all you like, you response shows your presumptions about me clearly. Although I'm willing to bet you weren't aware of the prejudice coloring your opinion
    Yet another ad hominem attack. And not a single quote to back your own presumptions up.

    Despite the written law, people in the US are not always presumed inocent--most of the time they are presumed guilty.
    You fail to illustrate actual facts supporting your conclusion, but instead supply anecdotal fallacies. You have decided that since the police and prosecutors assume your guilt, as well as your languishing in juvi due to rampant clerical error and widespread bureaurcatic idiocy, means that you are automatically guilty in the eyes of the court as well as the entire judiciary system.

    I already stated that is not true. I'm not denying it, it is a simple fact. The jury is to assume your innocence unless guilt is proved beyond any reasonable doubt. Not the police or prosecutors. You completely avoided that fact.

    You instead chose to attempt to discredit me with accusations of racism and bias, when you 1) do not know me or anything about me, and 2) made an assumption based on the fact that I knew your racial status, which you provided. This also begs the question as to whether you assume I'm white, and are thereby unwarrantedly assigning "racist" attributes to me.
    In short, you, sir, have made assumptions about me being racist and pompous, and then fallaciously accused me of making assumptions about you. In addition, you failed to attack my argument. I never attacked you personally, I only admonished you to stop playing the victim card like so many people do. Indeed, your reliance upon "racist" accusations hints of "card playing" well beyond the "victim" game, again, information you yourself have provided, and in abundance supply.

    Besides, this has honestly degenerated from the topic of Japanese police behavior.


    BACK TO THE ORIGINAL TOPIC OF THIS THREAD:
    Quote Originally Posted by http://www.seekjapan.jp/page1.php?id=556
    Repetition, brow beating, intimidation, insinuations of guilt, and outright manipulation are stock in trade when being questioned by the police. Fatigue is the most devastating weapon of the interrogator and the key to obtaining confessions--90 percent of cases that go to trial involve confessions, and they are almost never overturned.
    This is the same thing as in the United States. Although they can only hold you for a certain amount of time, unless you are placed under arrest, U.S. cops will try anything they possibly can to get a confession. Despite enormous errors, the TV show, Law & Order shows how the police will do whatevery they can get away with as often as possible.

    Cops are the same in Japan, England, the United States, anywhere. They aren't often the brightest or most honest members of society. Often they are kids you grew up with who were trouble makers and thought a badge would give them enough authority to bully people. They'll get away with what they can. That doesn't mean you are presumed guilty by the entire legal system. Guilt or innocence in Western/English style courtrooms are usually determined by the jury. It all depends on what the jury is to presume from the beginning of a trial.

  22. #22
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Speaking of the jury system....

    Japan is finally set to get one in 2008. Up until now, they've never had one.


    Too bad, the jury system has gotta be one of the "worst best ideas" ever....

  23. #23
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    You mean until now they only used one judge to make any judgements in a given trial?

  24. #24
    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    You mean until now they only used one judge to make any judgements in a given trial?
    Yep, except for the Supreme Court.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    You mean until now they only used one judge to make any judgements in a given trial?
    And there are only two levels of appeal possible.

    And prosecutors can appeal a "not guilty" verdict.

    Bail is routinely denied unless one has already signed a confession, making the outcome of a trial a foregone conclusion.

    etc.

    etc.

    etc.

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