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How Truth in the Judicial System Differs from Truth in Science
Truth in the judicial system is flawed in a lot of cases
There are several definitions of truth. This time let us focus on the kind of truth in the judicial system and in science. They are similar in few features. In this discussion we will tackle how they differ from each other.
The judicial system consists of the court of law, a judge, the investigating procedure, the litigation procedure and the judgment handed down by the judge, or a judicial body of judges like the Supreme Court (SC). The district court has only one judge. The Court of Appeals and SC are composed of several judges: The USA SC has 9 judges, the Philippine SC has 15 judges. The SC is headed by a Chief Justice.
Let us see how truth is established by the court.of law.
One, by the use of science. For example, rape where the main evidence is presence of semen in the female organ. The incontrovertible evidence is established by DNA fingerprinting. This scientific procedure was devised by Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist in Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, England in 1984. It is adopted by the judicial system of United Kingdom since 1984 and by the United States since 1986. It is based on the fact that no two individuals, except identical twins, have identical DNA fingerprints. Fraternal twins differ in DNA fingerprints. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) of USA distinguishes the DNA fingerprint of one person from a population of 100 trillion people. (I have a Hub “Criminals can neither fool DNA fingerprinting nor escape from it.”)
Simply put, a man whose semen has a DNA fingerprint that is identical to the DNA fingerprint of semen in the female organ of a rape victim definitely points to the same man as the rapist. That is assuming that the litigation has established that the semen had not been inserted by any other means except by sexual assault.
The first case where DNA fingerprinting was used was that of Collin Pitchfork in England. This is the subject of the book by Joseph Wambaugh entitled “The Blooding.” Pitchfork had raped and murdered three girls on separate dates. The truth here is:
"Collin Pitchfork raped and murdered three girls as established by DNA fingerprinting. "
Two, by testimony. That is a testimony by a witness. Senator Mirriam Defensor-Santiago of the Philippines said that a testimony by a witness does not need to be corroborated to be admitted as truth. Senator Mirriam is a lawyer; she was once a trial court judge and author of 30 books on law, according to her.
During a Senate hearing over the scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Sen. Mirriam said that the testimony of Ruby Tuason, a whistle blower of the scam, does not need to be corroborated. Tuason has testified that she delivered cash as commissions to a close assistant of a senator and to a senator. The commissions came from the pork barrel (PDAF) that the same senators released to some fake non-government organizations.
The truth that can be derived from a testimony appears to be denied by the resolution of the Supreme Court of the Philippines in saying that the lower courts failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the quilt of suspects of rape and murder in the Vizconde case. Main evidences to the crime were provided by testimonies of a witness, Jessica Alfaro. The truth here is:
"The seven men raped and murder Estelita and Carmella Visconde and murdered Jennifer Visconde according to Jessica Alfaro."
Three, circumstantial evidence. A celebrated case is that of Alger Hiss. Hiss was a former secretary in the cabinet of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, and lawyer himself. Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy. Pres. Richard Nixon, when still a congressman, led the prosecution of Hiss. There were three main circumstantial evidences against Hiss. One, the typewriter prints found in the documents presented as evidence were found the same as the prints of a typewriter supposedly owned by Hiss. Never mind that the typewriter was found by pro-Hiss as tampered with. Two, Whittaker Chambers, an established Soviet spy and convicted as such, testified that Hiss passed on to him classified files of the government. Three, deduced description. One report said that a government official in the circle of Pres. F.D. Roosevelt who accompanied the president in the Tehran conference between Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of U.K. and Premier Joseph Stalin of Russia, went to Russia after the conference. That report fit Hiss. However, Hiss was never caught red handed in giving classified documents to the Russians.
Hiss was jailed for five years not for being established as a Soviet spy but for perjury. That is, for denying that the typewriter used in passing on classified information belonged to him. The conviction might be viewed as largely political. Hiss belonged in the Democratic Party, Nixon in the Republican Party. At that time there was persecution of alleged communists in USA led by Senator Joseph MaCarthy, a Republican. That phenomenon is called MaCarthism or witchhunt.
The truth here is:"Alger Hiss is a Soviet spy according to rumors."
After the collapse of USSR in 1991 with the assumption that the iron curtain on free information was also broken down, Hiss wrote to the director of the archives of Soviet Intelligence to vouchsafe the report that Hiss was a Soviet spy. The Soviet office published a report that the name of Alger Hiss is not found in the archives.
Four, by the judgement of the judge or chief justice. This is exemplified by the acquittal of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. He was accused of killing Julio Nalundasan, the rival of his father for the congressional district of Ilocos Norte. A lower court convicted Marcos of murder; whereupon Marcos was jailed. Marcos appealed his case to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Being a lawyer, Marcos was allowed to defend himself.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that tried Marcos was Jose Laurel. He found Marcos to be a brilliant lawyer. It so happened that Laurel had a son who was similarly accused of a crime who was not acquitted by the court. This was related by Salvador Laurel, son of Jose who became a Philippine senator and vice-president of the Philippines (Nick Joaquin. Doy Laurel). Chief Justice Laurel had a predisposition that such a brilliant man who might be mistakenly accused of wrongdoing like his son will not suffer the same fate. Laurel acquitted Marcos.
The truth here is: "Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. is innocent because he is a brilliant lawyer."
[Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. went on to become congressman of Ilocos Norte, a senator, a president of the Senate of the Philippines, a president of the Philippines and dictator of the same country from 1972 to 1986. The acquittal might have shown him that he could fool the whole Philippine system.]
Five, caught in the act. One example is the assassination of Pres. Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth with a hand pistol on April 14,1965. Lincoln was watching a play “Our American Cousin” at the Ford’s theatre in Washington D.C. Booth was an actor who was part of a conspiracy in favor of the Confederate States of America to kill the president, vice-president and secretary of war of the United States of America (Internet, March 5,2014).
The truth here is: "John Wilkes Booth gunned down Pres. Abraham Lincoln."
Six, manufactured evidence. This is illustrated by the assassination of former senator Robert Kennedy on June 5,1968. Sirhan was accused as the assassin and had been jailed for 30 years, for a crime that he did not commit, according to Larry Teeter, lawyer of Sirhan (Internet, Marc 5,2014). Sirhan was not in a position to have killed Kennedy, wrote Teeter. The trajectory of bullets was that they originated from the back of Kennedy whereas Sirhan was at his front. There was a security guard located at Kennedy’s back who fired a gun but his gun was never checked. Over 2,410 crime-related photographs taken by Jamie Scott Enyart were taken by the police and burned, never to be used in the trial of Sirhan. A substitute bullet purported to have come from Sirhan’s gun was used in the trial.
The truth here is: "Sirhan Sirhan is shown in this court to have killed Senator Robert Kennedy by a substitute bullet purported to have been fired from his gun."
New entries as of Sept. 22,2014
The Ambassador Hotel is owned by the underworld, according to Eustace Mullins (Internet. Sept. 22,2014). But Robert Kennedy did not know it when he went there to deliver a speech. Robert was attorney general when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was US. president. Robert prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa who was then chief of the underworld. Whereupon, Hoffa was sent to prison (Kennedy, R. The Enemy Within). Hoffa was pardoned by Pres. Bill Clinton. End of new entries.
Seven, confession. In the Philippines several years ago, a certain Medel surrendered to the police and confessed to have killed actress Nida Blanca. The suspected real killer was her American husband whom Blanca made as a beneficiary to her substantial insurance. The husband fled to the United States where he was reported to have fallen from a building and died.
The truth according to Medel is: "Believe me I killed Nida Blanca."
Collin Pitchfork confessed to his crimes even before the results of the DNA fingerprinting was available. He was diagnosed as a sociopath.
The confession from Pitchfork is: "I like flashing girls whom I also murdered because they might tell others of my passion."
Eight, self reversal. This is exemplified by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. In one case the SC decided as unconstitutional the proclamation by Philippine congress making 16 towns as chartered cities. This decision was spurred by a petition by other cities that such Congressional proclamation was unconstitutional. The 16 towns vying for citihood filed a petition for reconsideration of the decisions of the SC. The SC reversed its earlier decision. That is, the proclamation by Congress of the 16 towns as cities is constitutional.
In another case, the SC earlier made a decision that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was constitutional. Last year, there was a nationwide protest against PDAF owing to scams involving it. According to the Commission on Audit, a constitutional body, some 100 billion pesos of PDAF were embezzled by government officials, some fake non-government organization, and some senators and congressmen. The SC took it upon itself, without any petition filed by an outside party, to take up again the constitutionality of PDAF. It has decided that PDAF is unconstitutional.
Only the Supreme Court can decide to reverse its decisions. Neither Congress nor the Presidency can reverse the decision of the SC. Yet the SC can nullify Congressional legislation or presidential proclamation by ruling them as unconstitutional. On this score, SC is more powerful than Congress or the Presidency.
Nine, truth that is voted upon. This occurs when a judicial body, like Supreme Court, is involved. The SC of the Philippines is composed of 15 justices. The ruling is that the SC has a decision when a draft verdict gets 8 affirmative votes.
Take the case of the Visconde massacre. A mother (Estelita Visconde) and her two daughters (Carmela and Jennifer) were killed on 30 June 1991 at their residence in BF Homes, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Suspects were apprehended (except two) and jailed then tried.
“The men were convicted by the Parañaque Regional Trial Court which the Court of Appeals affirmed. Except for Filart and Ventura who had been convicted in absentia, the men were later acquitted by the Supreme Court on 14 December 2010 for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” the resolution said.
We say resolution not decision of SC. Why? The reason is that a majority vote of 8 by the justices of the Supreme Court makes a decision. The resolution got only 7 votes out of the 15 justices.
Yet the resolution was interpreted as an acquittal and the suspects were released from prison. It is apparent that the chief justice of the SC signed the release order.
It so happened that the chief justice at that time was Renato Corona. He was impeached by the House of Representatives of the Philippine Congress and convicted by the Senate for filing a false statement of assets liabilities and networth in 2012. That removed him as chief justice and bar him from holding public office.
However, the anomalous resolution has yet to be corrected.
What we are pointing out is the happentance in a court of justice with a subsequent occurrence in the real life of people. Not to mention infliction of injustice to the raped and murdered victims, to the husband and father, and to relatives. Worse, the resolution becomes a precedent in the judicial system of the Philippines - thus part of common law.
Ten, rules of court. There are kinds of complaints that are to be filed in court within a prescribed period. When filed past the deadline, the complaint is not admitted by the court for trial. The truth about the complaint is never unearthed in court.
It is to be observed that the judicial system uses several criteria of truth as discussed above.
What is truth?
We are using the correspondence theory of truth.
“Narrowly speaking, the correspondence theory of truth is the view that truth is correspondence to a fact—a view that was advocated by Russell and Moore early in the 20th century. But the label is usually applied much more broadly to any view explicitly embracing the idea that truth consists in a relation to reality, i.e., that truth is a relational property involving a characteristic relation (to be specified) to some portion of reality (to be specified)...
“The now classical formulation of a fact-based correspondence theory was foreshadowed by Hume (Treatise, 3.1.1) and Mill (Logic, 1.5.1) and appears early in the 20th century in Moore (1910-11, chap. 15) and Russell: “Thus a belief is true when there is a corresponding fact, and is false when there is no corresponding fact” (1912, p. 129; cf. also his 1905, 1906, 1910, and 1913). The self-conscious emphasis on facts as the corresponding portions of reality—and a more serious concern with problems raised by falsehood—distinguishes this version from its precursors” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet. March 5,2014).
A fact is anything that is undefined about the universe, according to Russell. Absent language or symbol, a fact is undefined. Once you make a symbol or word to represent anything about the universe you define it. The symbol or word describes the fact. Suppose “red” is the first response of a man to a color. Next time he sees a similar color he calls it “red.” Following times that he sees a similar color he calls it “red.” He later on can imagine things that are “red.” When beside his side, he points to a patch of color and calls it “red.” The son follows suit and calls it “red.” We are describing a way how a symbol, or word, or language evolved.
A symbol or word or sentence describes a fact. It has come to pass that man uses symbols or word or sentence to represent a fact in the absence of that fact. This method is used in a communication between two or more persons or in mediated interactions like radio or television. It may happen that the symbols or language does not describe a fact. Consider:
“A buffalo have wings.” Let us assume that we have seen buffalos and wings; that we know what these words represent. So the question arises: Does a buffalo have wings?
In other words, is the sentence “A buffalo has wings” true? We try to verify this sentence and find that there is no verifier. That is, a buffalo so described does not exist. All along, we have been using the correspondence theory of truth.
In practice, existence of a thing is assumed or purposely asserted in a sentence.
For example, “A buffalo that has wings exists.” That part, “A buffalo that has wings” is called a definite description. “Exists” is a relationship of this description with the universe which is assumed.
In science, ordinary living, existence is attributed to a definite description. A sentence “Buffalo exists” where existence is attributed to a name or label will result in a contradiction when analyzed further, according to Russell.
What is denial?
What does the word “no” mean? This topic deserves another Hub. Suffice it to say that “no” is a word that indicates absence of member or verifier. “No” is similar to the term “zero” (0) in mathematics. Zero is a class that has no member, according to Bertrand Russell and Alfred North ‘Whitehead in the book “Principia Mathematica.” Zero is not a thing. In the correspondence theory of truth, “no” indicates that a definite description does not have a verifier.
Symbol and language
Symbol and language create classes. ‘A’ can be ‘A’ or ‘a’ and still the same letter. ‘Dog’ is a class that has breeds like St. Bernard, dalmatian, pit bull and more. Language creates a class of the same person in terms of name. The premise is that your blood in your body will be different after 140 days. The reason is that the blood replaces itself every 140 days. Your skin now will be different after 128 days. The reason is that the skin sheds every 128 days. Even so you think that you have the same blood, the same skin.
When you were born, you were given the name John. Now that you are aged 30 you are still called John. However, you are no longer the same person as when you were born. All your body parts had been replaced except perhaps your brain, nerves and cardiovascular system. They replace themselves but very slowly. So your name “John” is a class.
Truth in science
Science also assumes the correspondence theory of truth. The test of science is truth. Verifiability is a feature of science.
“A stone thrown upward within a limit covered by Newton’s theory of gravity will fall back to earth.”
A stone thrown up to a height where it will be weightless may not fall back to earth. Within that limit, if you throw up a lot of stones all of them will fall back to earth. So the statement is verified by several instances.
That quote above also serves as guide. If you have a diamond that you are fond of you may throw it up confident that it will fall back. That is, it will not be lost in space.
“Aspirin alleviates headache” has been verified several times. With this knowledge, if you have a headache you take a tablet of aspirin. You are confident that your headache will subside after sometime.
A sentence in science is true when existence is asserted on a definite description. Likewise, a sentence in science is true when it denies existence of a verifier for a definite description. For example, “A vitamin that promotes vision is absent.”
Truth in science is established by verification and replication.
If true, there might be only one that is not replicable. That is the Big Bang which is believed to be the origin of the universe.
Truth in the judicial system suffers for lack of replication. Killing the same person (or a person with the same lineage and name) cannot be replicated. A reenactment is not replication. A video of the original act is not replication.
Whereas there is replication in science. Making and detonating atomic bombs can be replicated.
For another, truth in the judicial system suffers because it is voted upon, in the case of a body of justices.
In science, truth is not voted upon. Take the case of the theories of relativity of Einstein. One hundred German scientists published a manifesto denouncing Einstein’s theories. Einstein reportedly retorted that these scientists need only to reckon with one fact. Einstein did not mention which fact, but I suspect that it is the speed of light. He used the speed of light and Lorentz transformation as assumptions of his theories. The speed of light was measured by Michelson and Morley. Lorentz transformation comes from pure reason.
The behavior of an electron is not considered as a vote. The more electrons behaving similarly establishes a pattern that can be asserted in a sentence. For example, oxygen has 8 electrons that spin around the nucleus in paths called orbit. The first orbit nearest the nucleus is occupied by two electrons. The second orbit is occupied by six electrons. Four of them in pairs. Two of them spin separately in parallel direction. The third orbit is empty when oxygen is in ground state. This empty orbit attracts electrons from other elements that is why oxygen forms compounds with them.
Judgment plays a large role in the truth of the judicial system. What made the Supreme Court reverse its decision on the PDAF? Was it the nationwide protest against PDAF?
The truth in the judicial system can be muzzled, like in the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.