Jurisprudence vs. Vendetta

In primitive societies, humans dealt with disputes in a direct way: one family or clan would attack and sometimes kill some or all of the family or clan they believed had wronged them. Not surprisingly, this system led to all manner of abuses from innocent people being killed to the development of feuds lasting generations. In the middle ages, feudal lords sought to bring this system under control by extending their personal protection to those in their realms and taking it upon themselves to mete out justice when necessary. To this day, criminal prosecutions in British Commonwealth countries are in the name of Crown, i.e. the queen or king. In the United States, the role of the Crown was assumed by the People as represented by their government. So a criminal trial in New York, for example, is a proceeding of the People of the State of New York vs. the defendant. This is different from a civil case, or tort, where the different sides in a dispute present their arguments to a court who decides who is right under the law. In a criminal case, the victim(s) of the crime or the family of the victim(s) have no legal standing. They are merely observers as the People seek justice. Some feel that this is unfair. Perhaps it is, but it is our law. We live in a country where jurisprudence, not vendetta, obtains.


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