Criminal Justice News and VIews

Interesting items related to criminal justice

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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

An opportunity to see Civil law in action

The continuing story of Natalie Hollaway, the 18-year-old teenager from Alabama, who vanished the night before she was due to fly home to the states is an excellent opportunity to compare the Civil legal system in operation in a criminal case to the workings of our own common law system.

A few things that I have heard discussed:

Those detained may be questioned for up to 11 hours a day.

No attorney may be present when a detainee is interrogated

Parents may not be required to testify against a child

A person is initially detained for 6 hours, then if there is reasonable suspicion/probable cause (both terms were used by those interviewed on the island) a prosecutor decides whether to hold the person for an additional 48 hours. From that point forward, a judge must decide if further detention is allowed. This period of detention/judge decides if more time is needed can continue for quite a long time.

There has been a tendency on the part of many who are interviewed, both those with a connection to the actual case and other so-called experts in the US, to be very critical of the actions of the Aruban authorities with little or no understanding of how the Civil law system works.

Unlike the message that we get from movies and television programs, solving a crime is a lengthy process, especially in the absence of a body. Consider how long it took for Scott Peterson to be arrested, as one example.

Let us not forget that this crime took place in Aruba and therefore Aruba has jurisdiction. When one leaves the United States and goes to another country, the laws of that country and that country alone will determine how our actions will be judged.