Day in Court

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Day in Court

I'm curious what people think about the vow on the stand: "swear to tell the truth, blah blah blah, so help me god?"

Of course I'm not saying this has ever prevented anyone from lying on the stand if they really wanted to, that would be ridiculous. But I think what I'm asking is, what sort of principle would satisfy you as binding the person testifying to tell the truth? For my own sake, if I imagine I'm there because a loved one has been killed, it becomes a much more crucial question than just whether I believe or not.

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smartypants wrote:what sort

smartypants wrote:
what sort of principle would satisfy you as binding the person testifying to tell the truth?

 

None, basically.

Except that you can, for the most, be reasonably sure that people will look out for their own best interest.

Which is why threatening them with punishment for perjory and/or contempt of the court is the real kicker in this context.

That silly "oath" is just ceremony that only carries any meaning to children and extremely naive people.

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I would flatly refuse to

I would flatly refuse to swear on any book. You DO have the option of "affirming".

I find the ritual of thinking that by putting your hand on a book will magically make you tell the truth absurd and antiquated. Witnesses are not bound to telling the truth by a ritual. They are bound to the words they say because the people in the court hear what they say and hold them to their words with the threat of perjury laws.

Why people tell the truth is because they don't want to go to jail for telling a lie if caught lying to a court. That doesn't prevent people from lying, it merely gives the court a way to punish people if they get caught in a lie.

I don't think you even need to promise to tell the truth. You either will, or you wont. Perjury laws are what works, not a promise you keep or don't keep. The fact that others hear what you say and compare it to presented evidence is what is really going on.

"I swear on Darwin's grave to tell the truth"

"So help me God"

"So help me Allah"

Are all superfluous bullshit utterances that neither make you lie or make you tell the truth. You either do our you don't, and if you don't and it is on record for others to "hear/read" you can be called on it.

 

 

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Brian37 wrote:I would flatly

Brian37 wrote:

I would flatly refuse to swear on any book. You DO have the option of "affirming".

I find the ritual of thinking that by putting your hand on a book will magically make you tell the truth absurd and antiquated. Witnesses are not bound to telling the truth by a ritual. They are bound to the words they say because the people in the court hear what they say and hold them to their words with the threat of perjury laws.

Why people tell the truth is because they don't want to go to jail for telling a lie if caught lying to a court. That doesn't prevent people from lying, it merely gives the court a way to punish people if they get caught in a lie.

I don't think you even need to promise to tell the truth. You either will, or you wont. Perjury laws are what works, not a promise you keep or don't keep. The fact that others hear what you say and compare it to presented evidence is what is really going on.

"I swear on Darwin's grave to tell the truth"

"So help me God"

"So help me Allah"

Are all superfluous bullshit utterances that neither make you lie or make you tell the truth. You either do our you don't, and if you don't and it is on record for others to "hear/read" you can be called on it.

Very good points. I'd be interested to see statistics on how often people are actually found guilty of perjury for lying in their court testimony. I'm too lazy to look that up, but yeah.


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 This whole practice is a

 This whole practice is a throw back to older times when a lot of people believed that God would send swift and violent judgment down on the heads of anyone who swore an oath in his name and broke it.  It's a pretty good example of how Christianity tries to bully people into compliance.

It is my understanding (and I could be wrong... I didn't look this up) that there are alternate oaths for people who do not wish to swear to God.  I'm pretty sure the standard non-theist one is something like:  "This is my solemn oath."  

There was recently a guy in South Carolina who took an oath to public office that didn't include God.  Now they're trying to kick him out of office for being an atheist.  I don't have time to look it up right now.  It should be pretty easy to find.

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Hambydammit wrote: This

Hambydammit wrote:

 This whole practice is a throw back to older times when a lot of people believed that God would send swift and violent judgment down on the heads of anyone who swore an oath in his name and broke it.  It's a pretty good example of how Christianity tries to bully people into compliance.

It is my understanding (and I could be wrong... I didn't look this up) that there are alternate oaths for people who do not wish to swear to God.  I'm pretty sure the standard non-theist one is something like:  "This is my solemn oath."  

There was recently a guy in South Carolina who took an oath to public office that didn't include God.  Now they're trying to kick him out of office for being an atheist.  I don't have time to look it up right now.  It should be pretty easy to find.

WHAT THE FUCK! AN ATHEIST IN OFFICE? Oh, next thing you'll tell me is that we have a black president!

I think you are making this shit up Hambi, and pink unicorns exist too.

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Hambydammit wrote: This

Hambydammit wrote:

 This whole practice is a throw back to older times when a lot of people believed that God would send swift and violent judgment down on the heads of anyone who swore an oath in his name and broke it.  It's a pretty good example of how Christianity tries to bully people into compliance.

It is my understanding (and I could be wrong... I didn't look this up) that there are alternate oaths for people who do not wish to swear to God.  I'm pretty sure the standard non-theist one is something like:  "This is my solemn oath."  

There was recently a guy in South Carolina who took an oath to public office that didn't include God.  Now they're trying to kick him out of office for being an atheist.  I don't have time to look it up right now.  It should be pretty easy to find.

 

This was a somewhat interesting case in Michigan where a woman objected to raising her hand while swearing or affirming.

Michigan doesn't include the text of 'so help me God' or the Bible.

http://michiganlawyerblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/its-truth-i-swear-or-affirm.html

 

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Why have an oath or

Why have an oath or affirmation at all? Why not just, "Do you understand that lying in this circumstance is a punishable crime?"?

One reason might be that by positively promising to tell the truth, you are entering into a kind of contract, above and beyond the normal citizen's duties.

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natural wrote:Why have an

natural wrote:

Why have an oath or affirmation at all? Why not just, "Do you understand that lying in this circumstance is a punishable crime?"?

One reason might be that by positively promising to tell the truth, you are entering into a kind of contract, above and beyond the normal citizen's duties.

 

According to some of the articles I've read was that the oath originally was intended to heighten the person's awareness and provoke their sense of right and wrong in order to remind them that they need tell the truth.

 

I don't buy into that as necessary myself.
That's just the argument that I've heard.


Nowadays the real answer imo is 'because that's the way it's always been done'....

There really isn't a need for it.   They could make a disclaimer at the start of each testimony or each trial when the court is brought to other reminding that any testimony given must be the truth and is subject to the laws governing perjory.

 

 

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By oath.

 

 

 

         One reason to make the oath is otherwise you get a witness giving evidence without the promise to tell  the truth. Without that promise you can't later charge them with purgery. Maybe contempt or obstruction but not purgery,  the word means breaking a promise.

 

 

         I'm curious what would happen if the person answers NO to the oath? At which point they would be  under oath Not to tell the truth.

 

 

         Early Greeks and Romans invented this system, but without holeybooks they made the promise while holding their testicles, punnishment would be  castration;  they took honesty real serious in court.  3000 years later we still call it Testimony.

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Jeffrick

Jeffrick wrote:

         I'm curious what would happen if the person answers NO to the oath? At which point they would be  under oath Not to tell the truth.

Contempt of Court. Obstruction of Justice, perhaps.

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