Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 8th Jun 2008 15:53 UTC, submitted by sonic2000gr
Legal The story of Hans Reiser, the eccentric file system programmer, is a tragic one. The author of the ReiserFS was arrested under suspicion of the murder of his wife Nina Reiser in 2006, and was declared guilty in April 2008. Some still placed doubts about the conviction, stating that he might be innocent. It now seems that all doubt has been quelled, since Alameda County District Attorney Thomas Orloff has revealed that Hans Reiser will disclose the location of Nina's body for a reduced sentence.
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RE[2]: Comment by Oliver
by Havin_it on Sun 8th Jun 2008 18:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Oliver"
Havin_it
Member since:
2006-03-10

It's a very compelling question. A bit OT (Hans did not commit murder to enhance his filesystem, I,m pretty sure) but certainly an interesting point.

It seems similar to this term I keep hearing on Law and Order, "fruit of the poisoned tree". Evidence of a crime, no matter how conclusive of a defendant's guilt, is not admissible in a trial if it was obtained by illegal means. Or course Sam Waterston & co. will usually find some clever way around this rule, and we'll (or are expected to, I think) applaud them for it.

This behaviour is almost unique because, as you indicate with the Nazi example, we tend to regard knowledge as a Genie that can't be kept in its bottle. We're always told to learn lessons from the Nazi era, so should one be subjective in that enterprise? I'm sure that, if the powers who got hold of those research data had decided to bury them for moral reasons, they would still have leaked eventually.

Of course, turning your nose up at working on (or using) a bit of software because the author--one of the authors, for accuracy--did a Bad Thing is not really comparable to the above. The software still deserves to be evaluated on its own merits. I think, though, that that is exactly what is happening, and the suggestion of unfair prejudice based on Hans's crime is spoken mainly by die-hard fans as an excuse, rather than an objective assessment of any community members' behaviour.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Oliver
by dagw on Sun 8th Jun 2008 19:50 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Oliver"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

It seems similar to this term I keep hearing on Law and Order, "fruit of the poisoned tree". Evidence of a crime, no matter how conclusive of a defendant's guilt, is not admissible in a trial if it was obtained by illegal means.

Which is quite interesting in and of itself, since it seems to be a very American concept. In other countries all evidence, no matter how gathered, is admissible. It is then up to the lawyers to argue, in court, that the way it was collected makes it tainted, unreliable and thus should be ignored. If laws where broken in gathering the evidence, then that will be treated in a separate and unrelated trial.

Again it is hard case arguing which is prefereable. Letting a guilty person go free because some rookie cop forgot to dot every i and cross every t is on the one hand a bad thing. On the other hand the system does make sure that everybody involved in an investigation tries extra hard to stay on the right side of the law when gathering evidence, since doing otherwise might lead to a guilty person walking.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[4]: Comment by Oliver
by hobgoblin on Sun 8th Jun 2008 20:58 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Oliver"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

another very US concept is the reading of rights...

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Comment by Oliver
by javiercero1 on Sun 8th Jun 2008 21:16 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Oliver"
javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

There is a reason why evidence has to bee beyond any reasonable doubt. For example, the cops could plant "evidence" and voila you are automatically guilty.

Also illegal evidence could be most likely due to entrapment et al. The whole point is that the state, who is the enforcer of laws, should not be above the laws it is trying to enforce.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by Oliver
by atriq on Sun 8th Jun 2008 23:43 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Oliver"
atriq Member since:
2007-10-18

It's remixed a lot, but there's the saying:

It's better that 1000 guilty men go free than one innocent man be imprisoned

Reply Parent Score: 1