Saturday, December 23, 2006

Define Justice

I have been following the case of Roy Brown convicted in 1992 for the 1991 murder of Sabina Kulakowski (Cayuga County, NY). He was convicted --found guilty by a jury--and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
The question comes as new (DNA) evidence that Brown has uncovered that might lead to another man who might be her murderer. But that man committed suicide a few days after her received a letter from Brown... his daughter povided a sample that was used to match DNA. But there is no evidence that that man's daughter is really his daughter, so now his body is going to be exhumed.
The judge is letting the verdict stand. The DA in the case has already said "The issue before this court is not whether Roy Brown is guilty; a jury determined that in 1992. The issue is whether this DNA evidence proved that someone other than Mr.Brown is guilty..." James B. Vargason, Cayuga County District Attorney (12.12.06)

I am working on next semester's syllabus for the political theory class. At the beginning of the semester the question of the day will be to define "justice." The class will do an exercise "Just, UnJust" in which in small they will separate out actions/scenarios depicted on index cards into piles--just, unjust, not applicable--, and then try and come up with a group definition. They will then go to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) to find the definition. They will have to interview 3 people "on the street" to see how they define the word. The students will then write an analysis.

According to the DA Brown is guilty--by the rules of the court. Is that justice?

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