Jackson, Some issues about online judicial proceedings

A small part of the wreckage from a beating, a home invasion, a robbery and extensive vandalism by five maleantes. I could go on but I won’t. There are people in jail awaiting trial who are accused of this, and let’s respect their right to a fair trial without incendiary publicity and the presumption of their innocence here. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Online court proceedings, an early take

by Eric Jackson

If there are to be online court proceedings, the system needs to be updated to both assure a fair and PUBLIC trial and to protect against gangsterism. That entails more people watching. The press and the families of the accused and victims SHOULD be encouraged to tune in.

Do Bagdad, Caliente Caliente or their rivals or imitators get to have their would-be sicarios tune in and see the victims or the witnesses? As a crime victim, I THINK that the attendance was limited at the last hearing and I wanted to see the accused and be seen by the accused.

Make it a fully public online trial and I might want to put a piece of tape over the camera so that the accused’s friends who don’t know me don’t get to see me. (AH, but they can read The Panama News or look at the website’s associated and far more active social media.)

Most people are not like me, with an easily looked up public persona. But some of the accused ARE, and can and have have people — like me — look up things they have posted online. Good and bad things to say about that. Hiding in plain sight is my style, which should not be required of others.

So there are legal, ethical, technical and courteous efficient service to the public issues to address. There are many things about the political and public sector work cultures that can get in the way. Also, especially at low levels, good folks to navigate around the obstacles.

I look inside myself, and around myself near and far. Once past the toddlers’ delusion that would put me at the center of the universe, other things come into play. Things about what I want, and to which the whole world is entitled.

I want to watch Ricky Martinelli’s NSO online spying trial. If he had all the online communications of those 150 people monitored, I had online communications with some of them which were intercepted. Successive prosecutors have systematically denied the rights of those like me – there have to be thousands of us.

Malingering Ricky gets to attend online if he wants? So should the general public. And the press — not just the selection from the rabiblanco media, but also a piranha school of small media, and those of us who tend to swim alone.

I want to watch the Blue Apple proceedings, and the Odebrecht proceedings. Might some courtroom artist for Tales of Sex and Death Comix have different preferences, giving rise to other judicial concerns? She’d have the right, but other rights would be in play.

Some serious thought, expertise of several sorts, and advocacy for several points of view are all needed for proper online justice. Some pompous deputy, or higher and mightier magistrate, should not be allowed to put it in the hands of a computer nerd relative who needs a job.

Online proceedings are something that we have to do because of the epidemic and associated state of emergency? We had some online stuff before that. After the virus runs its course, things will not go back to where they were before.

There are other issues with folks living in Panama’s outer boonies, those who are computer illiterate, those without the devices to connect online and so on. There are a heterogeneous ball of “national development” and “justice for all” issues.

Time to take an intentional step forward, Panama. NOT to copy the Americans, and certainly not to import Chinese standards of justice. Time to learn from all over, pick and choose, and invent something better and more suitable for us.

It’s not just a matter of the national ballet getting kicked out of their home at the Balboa Theater, to make way for a show trial that the public can’t attend. The judicial system was so generous enough to give us THIS photographic information about the pretrial proceedings against the Blue Apple defendants — dozens of people who allegedly stole and laundered tens of millions of dollars from the Panamanian people by way of rigged bids on public works contracts and kickbacks from these. The press is not allowed inside to cover the proceedings. Let alone the general public. So protection for WHOM? No doubt someone would say the families of the accused. It would be no surprise if one or more of those who have pleaded guilty and turned state’s evidence in this case actually said that he did it for his family. This Panagringo nobody asks: “If you can’t rise above a family scandal and make your way in the world on your merits, what special respect IS your due? Forget the privileges of the pompous relatives. Put this trial online for all to see.

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