The Madeleine McCann Disappearance

MorningAngel

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Kind of reminds me of the BBC's recent adaptation of Alex McBride's Defending the Guilty, which I very much enjoyed; starring the excellent young actor Will Sharpe (who also did a very splendid job in Giri/Haji). Also Sarah Langford's, In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law - which I read at the beginning of this year.

To be honest, I think the idea of saving 'genuine innocents', although clearly extremely desirable, is a bit of a red herring in regard to the main point of the defence's role in an adversarial system - which is to test the Crown's case to the most exhaustive degree possible. I would argue that the safest convictions are those where it is the defence, and not the prosecution, that has put up the most effective fight.

As Mikefule says above - the defence represents a single cog in a larger machine, without which that machine fails entirely.

(I find the law absolutely fascinating - and in another lifetime...who knows?)

Edit: Hutchinson's near classic, Is Eating People Wrong?: Great Legal Cases and How they Shaped the World was part of my lockdown reading list. Don't say there's nothing Fortean about the law.

(And the answer is...well, it kind of depends.)

Has anyone seen the Escape Artist starring David Tennent? That was good, he got the guy off but wouldn’t shake his hand then the guy comes and murders his family, but what happened after that was brilliant.
 

Xanatic*

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The word on the street, but seemingly without official confirmation, is that the german prosecutors have told the parents that they have proof Madeleine is dead.
 

PeteS

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I worked in the local Magistrates' Courts and saw how things work, at least at that level. Perry Mason it is NOT.
I had to attend a few trials at Crown Court in my working life and one a few years ago in which I had a personal interest. All I can say is thank the Lord that juries are largely sensible people and mostly seem to come to the right decision, notwithstanding the sometimes bizarre approaches taken by Barristers and judges.
 

OrsonSwells

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The word on the street, but seemingly without official confirmation, is that the german prosecutors have told the parents that they have proof Madeleine is dead.
I wonder what the “concrete evidence” could be.
 

James_H

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One of my oldest friends is an ex-defence lawyer. The job is not conducive to family life.

For several years he'd take phone calls in the dead of night to drive to the most odious districts and ensure that (to be honest) the detritus of society got the best defence he could manage. He was frequently despondent about how light a sentence the most obviously guilty were handed, but he did the job because, every now and again, through carelessness, laziness or non-reflective bias, the police made mistakes; and while those he 'got off' were frequently guilty of a string of other offences, there were genuine innocents caught up in the system by pure flukes of circumstances who had done nothing whatsoever wrong.

He did the job for them and the salary (which, In my opinion, was rubbish for the work demanded).

This small category, I might add, were often the victims of malicious unfounded accusations and 'straight' members or friends of crooks who looked guilty by association.
I had no idea you were friends with Horace Rumpole.
 

James_H

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Aware of the character, but never read the books or saw the TV adaptation.
They're formulaic, but nice. The title character is an elderly defense lawyer with little interest in moving up the career ladder, because his heart is in defending 'low lifes'.
 

Eponastill

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I was just reading an article in this morning's paper:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...bloids-and-trolls-fill-vacuum-as-wait-goes-on
So no evidence provided yet (I mean the obvious evidence would be him pointing to where the poor kid's buried, and you'd think he could have done that within a fortnight).
But it amused me slightly that it mentions someone wrote a paper about the people online who vehemently think the parents actually had a hand in it. Apparently these are 'trolls' who show "characteristics of anti-social personality disorder". And, "Language is central to Anti-McCann group in the construction of identity" - interesting, when it appears the use of language (used by the McCanns) is also part of these trolls' argument! The article is here. I'm getting another cup of tea. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563217300614
I would have thought if you were a troll with anti-social personality disorder, you'd just enjoy winding people up about anything. I'm not sure whether the author looked into whether these people were generally troll-y or just reserved it for this one subject. Besides, I'm a bit confused as to why they didn't look at the bad behaviour of the pro-McCann group online as well, as I'm quite sure they would be just as provocative back again (judging by the discussion on this board, both sides give as good as they get. Of course we're relatively polite, I'm sure :)
 
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Min Bannister

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I would have thought if you were a troll with anti-social personality disorder, you'd just enjoy winding people up about anything. I'm not sure whether the author looked into whether these people were generally troll-y or just reserved it for this one subject.
I can't help thinking that, whether you troll on other subjects or not, getting so heavily invested in someone elses life is not a mentally healthy thing.
 

gordonrutter

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One wonders how much of the perception of our various adversarial courts is driven by their portrayal on telly. The many police and lawyer dramas offer a false perspective of the reality of police and legal work, which can thereby bias the participants, particularly jurors, on the proper procedures and processes around the actual workings of the trial, including evidence presentation, the reliability of witnesses, and causing general bias against the defendant (unless she's really pretty).
I used to think trial by jury was a fair system and a great thing. Having served on several juries it has scared the shit out of me. I think it may still be a great system but my confidence was shaken every time.
 

Mythopoeika

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I used to think trial by jury was a fair system and a great thing. Having served on several juries it has scared the shit out of me. I think it may still be a great system but my confidence was shaken every time.
It can be heavily dependent on personalities and the prejudices held by the jury members. Also dependent on how bright they are and how much they truly understand. I think it's imperfect, definitely.
 

gordonrutter

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It can be heavily dependent on personalities and the prejudices held by the jury members. Also dependent on how bright they are and how much they truly understand. I think it's imperfect, definitely.
On one occasion one member simply voted exactly the same way as whoever she happened to be sitting next to.
 

Krepostnoi

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I used to think trial by jury was a fair system and a great thing. Having served on several juries it has scared the shit out of me. I think it may still be a great system but my confidence was shaken every time.
How do you get on playing the lottery? What are the odds of your name coming out of the hat at all, let alone more than once? And does this mean that it's an urban myth that once you've been a juror, you're exempt? Certainly, that's the apparently mistaken impression I've been labouring under (the exemption bit, I mean, not the urban myth bit).
 

Cochise

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I used to think trial by jury was a fair system and a great thing. Having served on several juries it has scared the shit out of me. I think it may still be a great system but my confidence was shaken every time.
It's not perfect. Just better than any alternative. Kinda like democracy.
 

gordonrutter

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How do you get on playing the lottery? What are the odds of your name coming out of the hat at all, let alone more than once? And does this mean that it's an urban myth that once you've been a juror, you're exempt? Certainly, that's the apparently mistaken impression I've been labouring under (the exemption bit, I mean, not the urban myth bit).
You’re exempt for a period. I was called during a period of exemption once and I pointed this out so they just called me back the following year. It used to be five years it is now three years, here at least. The last couple of times they have a bowl with about 50 of us in and they use that to make two juries. We then hung around to see if anyone was ruled out for whatever reason and then instructed that we were finished with or had to go through the whole process again.
 

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I can't help thinking that, whether you troll on other subjects or not, getting so heavily invested in someone elses life is not a mentally healthy thing.

There's also a huge difference - absolutely huge - between using social media to accuse named persons of murder and conspiracy, and using social media to ask someone to prove that accusation. The whole pro/anti thing is a false dichotomy based on a flawed premise that this is some sort of team game based on the personalities involved and patronage to one of two fixed stances, rather than on the actual evidence on offer - which is the only thing anyone should be concerned with.
 

Spookdaddy

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You’re exempt for a period. I was called during a period of exemption once and I pointed this out so they just called me back the following year. It used to be five years it is now three years, here at least. The last couple of times they have a bowl with about 50 of us in and they use that to make two juries. We then hung around to see if anyone was ruled out for whatever reason and then instructed that we were finished with or had to go through the whole process again.

I have several friends in Scotland who have been called more than once, but I think I only know maybe one person south of the border who has ever been called up at all - which has always struck me as a bit odd. I wonder if it might be something to do with the size of the electoral roll in relation to the number of cases being tried - a statistical thing common to smaller populations, and not necessarily based on higher crime rates.
 

gordonrutter

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I have several friends in Scotland who have been called more than once, but I think I only know maybe one person south of the border who has ever been called up at all - which has always struck me as a bit odd. I wonder if it might be something to do with the size of the electoral roll in relation to the number of cases being tried - a statistical thing common to smaller populations, and not necessarily based on higher crime rates.
I was called once in England and I think four times so far in Scotland
 

escargot

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Many people try to get out of jury service. My mother ducked it by producing a letter from her doctor stating that the strain of it on top of caring for her own ailing elderly mother would be too much for her.

However, studies have shown that many people from immigrant communities would be proud to be called for it because it was a chance to serve their community.
 

Frideswide

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I've been called 3 times in Scotland. I was excused once because I had plane tickets and was going to fly to the Netherlands for a shooting competition.
 

Stormkhan

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One wonders how much of the perception of our various adversarial courts is driven by their portrayal on telly. The many police and lawyer dramas offer a false perspective of the reality of police and legal work, which can thereby bias the participants, particularly jurors, on the proper procedures and processes around the actual workings of the trial, including evidence presentation, the reliability of witnesses, and causing general bias against the defendant (unless she's really pretty).
I have read it argued - well - that our adversarial system is declared to be founded on "innocent until proven guilty" but this is misleading. In The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J.Simpson by Sadakat Kadri, this is argued thus. It is the CPS who decides they have enough evidence to prove someone guilty of a crime and tries them. The defence then has to challenge and refute that evidence, rather than 'prove' innocence. If the authorities 'know' a person is guilty but can't get sufficient evidence, then there's no case to answer. No defence necessary - the defendant is 'assumed' to be innocent. But if it goes to trial, the authorities think they've hard evidence to prove a person's guilt. That person is appearing in the dock is assumed to be guilty and that the Law can prove it. The defence can't prove innocence, as such, but it can refute the evidence presented.
I think it sad that Defence counsel can't prove a person innocent - they can only prove them not-guilty which, to my simple mind, leaves a big margin for doubt. I like the Scottish conclusion of 'not proven'.

In the McCann case, I think there's many factors at work. The British law wants it closed and, therefore, a high-profile drain on budget stopped. The Portuguese law want it concluded as it's bad for the tourist industry and hasn't made the Law look too great. The Germans have got a paedophile bang to rights ... and he was at the scene of crime at the right time. Unless he actually 'coughs' for it, they need evidence. Hooray for the Polizei! The McCanns need closure: if they are innocent then they want to have it proved and be able to find out what actually happened to their daughter. If they are guilty then they want the matter closed and some other creep take the rap. The reason they still 'make noise' is to either of these conclusions.
 

pandacracker

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This is and interesting interview 'feature' regarding new evidence about the current suspect ..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXsXXxRek2Q

Not very impressed with the production style but the facts presented are indeed interesting.
As long as the German police dealing with this case didn't go to the same schools as those involved with the building of the new Brandenburg airport, I have a certain trust in their efficiency.
 
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