Ethics in the Criminal Justice System Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Queen v. Dudley, a group of sailors were hired to captain a yacht from Essex, England to Sydney, Australia. Dudley was the captain, and Stephens, Brooks, and Parker were his mates and seamen. When The Mignonette capsized, the four men climbed aboard the lifeboat dinghy but had no water or supplies. Several weeks into the ordeal, Captain Dudley suggested that one of the men be sacrificed as a food source for the others so that at least three of them might remain alive rather than having them all die. Dudley first suggested they draw straws to see who would be chosen, but then decided that Parker, one of the seamen aboard, showed signs of sickness and would make an ideal candidate for sacrifice. Dudley killed Parker and the three other men ate Parker's body until they were rescued several days later. When the men returned home to England, they were treated like heroes and criminals at the same time. The Crown pressed charges of murder. Parker's eldest brother openly shook hands with Dudley to show signs of support, and the jury seemed set to yield a verdict of not guilty. That was when the Crown intervened by invoking arcane rules of the court.

The Queen v. Dudley case of 1884 shows how prosecutorial and judicial discretion can be abused. In this case, "by way of a highly unorthodox procedure," a trial by jury was replaced by trial by tribunal, in which case five (obviously biased) judges meted out a decision contrary to that which the jury trial would have provided the defense. Lord Chief Justice Lord Coleridge used the Dudley case as his own political platform and moral pulpit, to espouse his views on whether killing Parker was a matter of self-preservation or not. In the interests of promoting his own personal moral beliefs, Lord Chief Justice Lord Coleridge overstepped the boundaries of the law in a democratic system. It would have been interesting to know whether or not Coleridge would have overtaken the case had the jury been leaning towards a guilty verdict. Would Coleridge still have wanted his day in the limelight? Interestingly, the case closed with the defense being pardoned. Coleridge was less interested in preserving the integrity of the system than he was in using the system to promote his own sense of moral righteousness.

In the This American Life episode "Right to Remain Silent," Ira Glass discusses two separate cases. The first is that of Joe Lipari, a stand-up comedian who had an annoying experience at the Apple Store and who posted to Facebook about it. His speaking out led to a surreal militaristic response one would not typically associate with American values. The second case is similar in the out-of-proportion response to Schoolcraft's whistleblowing-like activities in the police force. Ira Glass chose to discuss these two different cases together because they both refer to the ways that Constitutional rights like freedom of speech are not taken seriously. In both of these cases, the people involved were not overstepping the boundaries of the First Amendment. They were not using hate speech or anything that would have caused danger, although the issue with Joe Lipari was framed in such a way. Lipari essentially "cried fire in a theater," which is one of the few ways that freedom of speech may be legitimately curtailed because is believed that false alarms can be extremely disruptive and an infringement on people's rights. In this case, Lipari posted what he believed to be a joke on Facebook. Lipari even quoted from a famous movie (The Fight Club) but no one involved in the case seemed to get the joke. Because he was sarcastic and did not defer to intimidation by the cops, Lipari underwent months of traumatic ordeals with the justice system. The police never offered Lipari the benefit of the doubt, and even after they searched his apartment, deemed him to be a threat. This case illustrates…

Sources Used in Document:


60 Minutes. "Evidence of Innocence: The Case of Michael Morton." Retrieved online:

This American Life. 414: Right to Remain Silent. Retrieved online:

"The Mignonette, 1884 (Queen v. Dudley)."

Schwartz, J. (2014). Evidence of Concealed Jailhouse Deal Raises Questions About a Texas Execution. The New York Times. Feb 27, 2014. Retrieved online:

Cite This Essay:

"Ethics In The Criminal Justice System" (2015, June 02) Retrieved April 24, 2019, from

"Ethics In The Criminal Justice System" 02 June 2015. Web.24 April. 2019. <>

"Ethics In The Criminal Justice System", 02 June 2015, Accessed.24 April. 2019,