Thursday, April 12, 2018

4/12/18

Alien Judgement
By David K Scholes


“We got it wrong and an innocent man spent 15 years in a down time penal colony.” I was devastated.

“We all of us share some blame,” replied Tricia “The AI Judge, the human jury, the robotic investigators, the human prosecuting attorney and the cyborg defence attorney."

“He must be a very bitter man,” I added, stating the obvious. “How did they find out the truth after all this time?”

“The visiting Zrell higher law enforcement took it up as a cold case. Something about it disturbed them. They used time cameras to 3D video what actually happened. The Time Cameras cannot lie. An advance greater even than DNA techniques or the mind probe,” Tricia finished.

“They’ll give him the 15 years he lost?” I asked.

“Always,” responded Tricia. “They always do that, though the form in which it’s provided can vary.”

“No way he could be returned to the time when he was first incarcerated?” I offered hopefully.

“Even the Zrell can’t do that, you know that!” Tricia chided me. “Unacceptable interference in the time stream.”

“The full Zrell Judgement is down now, anyway. I’m bringing it up on my mind link right now.” Like me she was apprehensive.

I knew of course that it was an edict from which there existed no higher avenue of appeal on or off world.

“Well – let’s hear the best part of it first,” I tried to sound cheerful.

“He’ll be treated such that he can expect to live 15 years longer than he would have – through established age reduction techniques. Also the State will have to compensate him and his immediate family for 15 years of lost income." I pondered on that – it still seemed to be only partial compensation for all that time lost. Such as time lost with his loved ones – who couldn’t be given another 15 years.

“And the bad news, the other side of the equation?” I asked.

“All of us that were part of the bad decision will be held to account, to the extent that we are judged to have contributed to it. You know how strongly the Zrell feel about wrongful convictions. With them – a state apology alone just doesn’t cut it.”

“The AI Judge is disbarred,” Tricia continued. “Its emotion and judgement chips removed, and it is returned to mechanical administrative duties.” I wondered what they might have done if it was a human judge. “The cyborg defence attorney will be de-commissioned – it’s apparently made other mistakes. The robotic investigators have been put on administrative duties.”

And the humans?” I inquired. “The jury and the human prosecutor?”

Tricia’s response was deliberately slow as, having been on that jury, we both had a vested interest.

The lost 15 years are to be shared equally among the human jury, with the human prosecutor taking a greater penalty.

“Each juror will lose a year or so?” I already knew the answer.

Tricia nodded “a minor aging process – not so minor a process for the prosecutor.”

* * *

If the Zrell approach seemed unduly harsh, it had its desired consequences. Nowadays there were very few wrongful convictions.


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The author is a science fiction writer who has written more than 200 short stories.including eight collections of short stories and two novellas (all on Amazon). He has been published on the Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles sites and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is currently about half way through a new collection of science fiction short stories.


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