It is tempting – though apparently naive – to consider the justice system an institution in which grey areas do not exist, where there are cut and dry rules that are followed, regardless of extenuating circumstance or other factors that might influence a decision elsewhere in life.
Unfortunately, precisely because of our human nature, circumstances can conspire against even the most benign among us, and the justice system is no stranger to such a notion. Perhaps the reason it is so seductive to consider the institution of the upholding of the law infallible is because the alternative – that mistakes leading to injustice – can be made, is terrifying to consider.
In a perfect world, the good guys walk free, the bad guys get their just desserts and everyone continues with their lives, safe in the knowledge that justice has been upheld. As has been well documented and oft-lamented, though, we don’t live in a perfect world, and so every now and then the reverse of what we consider just and true will occur. The case of Lavinia Woodward, though, is far from being so clear cut; certainly not one that can be viewed in irrational terms of good and bad.
While some will feel that the recent and much pored over case of an Oxford medical student is in danger of turning into a regrettable miscarriage of justice, others will feel that a ruling in her favour could prevent a different kind of injustice.
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