RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Some remarks on jurisprudence, from a Professor of Chemistry.

The only person with a right to a trial is the defendant. If you see something you think is wrong, that doesn't entitle you to have the government prosecute. Federal private prosecutions are forbidden since 1981, and most states won't allow them either.

Back when many if not most prosecutions were private, the primary function of a grand jury was to squelch them if they were frivolous or unfounded. Now they don't happen, the grand jury is a mostly useless vestige. In Federal cases, they are constitutionally required, so prosecutors abuse them. However, while the practice of placing only evidence hostile to the defendant before a grand jury is permitted, it is not a mandate; in fact, the US Marshals' manual tells prosecutors to present the grand jury with exonerating evidence. A prosecutor who uses a grand jury to quash a prosecution the mob is demanding is acting far closer to the original intent than one who uses it as a rubber stamp.

Just because somebody practices criminal law, doesn't mean he knows this. I work with dozens of analytical chemists who don't know the history or first principles of the techniques they use.

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