The latin phrase “non bis in idem” is translated as “not twice in the same thing” and refers to the right of a defendant to be protected from prosecution for the same crime twice. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This is not exclusively an American doctrine, and is found in a similar form in the federal law of nearly every other modern country. In fact, every member of the Council of Europe has signed a convention which regulates human rights. Article Four of Protocol Seven of the Convention says that no person can be charged again for a crime that they have already been acquitted or convicted of. Laws that guard against double jeopardy are extremely important in any modern legal system, because of the how corrupt and easily abusable repeat trials would be.
Is it just me, or does road rage seem to be more prevalent nowadays than it used to be? It seems that if you accidentally cut someone off, drive in the left lane too long, or use your horn to signal your presence, you may just tick someone off. I am not innocent, either, and can say I have found myself on both sides of this situation.
What do you do when: someone cuts you off in traffic; you notice someone texting and driving; someone changes lanes in front of you without using a turn signal; someone drives too slowly in the left lane; or someone stops at an intersection where there is no yield or stop sign and no vehicles in sight?
I attended a murder trial last week. Not in any sort of official way, but simply as a learning experience. As a high school intern at Anderson Law in Kennewick, I have the opportunity to investigate law as a career. So, with the help of Anderson Law attorney Edwardo Morfin, I went to a superior court trial in Franklin County. Even though it wasn’t related to personal injury or car accidents, the trial was interesting and educational in many ways (especially since it was a murder trial). One thing in particular stood out to me: I noticed that the jury had significantly fewer Hispanics than Caucasians on it. There were two or three Hispanic jurors, but the majority of the jurors were Caucasian. Since the defendant was also Hispanic, I wondered if this was truly a jury of his peers. Although I do not believe this was indicative of jury selection bias, it made me think about the importance of jury diversity, and how maybe it isn’t being addressed enough. A lack of diverse juries, and potential racial bias, have been a problem in the American courtroom for a long time. Although American demographics have changed substantially, and race relations seem to be better than they ever have been, there is still much room for improvement.