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Two Accusing Fingers

I’ve got to say I’m surprised that the Scottish Parliament is talking about doing away with one of the cornerstones of the Scots criminal justice system. I’m talking about, as the lawyers used to explain to the High Court juries, the need for there to be “two fingers of guilt pointing at the accused”, in other words the insistence that someone cannot be convicted on a single piece of evidence. The need for at least one piece of collaborative evidence makes wrongful conviction in Scotland less likely than in England. No Scot could be convicted solely on the dubious confession or the word of some batty eyewitness. Of course, both a dubious confession and batty eyewitness would be enough for a conviction but the demand for collaboration still makes wrongful conviction less likely. The need for collaborative evidence is why the Scots have the Not Proven verdict. That means that there was only one finger pointing at the accused and no matter how good that single piece of evidence is, legally it is not enough. I can’t help feeling that if an accused is indeed guilty, any cop worth his or her salt should be able to find at least two of the required “fingers of guilt” required for conviction.

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