One?criticism?of?the?Adversary?System?is?that?it?is?slow?and?cumbersome.?The?judge,?acting?as?a?neutral?fact?finder,?can?do verylittle?to?accelerate?a?trial,?and?procedural?and?evidentiary?rules?further?slow?the?process.?Likewise,?the?wide?availability?of appellate?review?means?that?a?final?determination?can?take?years.?However,?at?least?one?study?has?shown?that?in?courtswhere?adversarial?trials?were?discouraged?and?settlements?actively?encouraged,?litigants?still?encountered?substantial?delays in?resolution. The AdversarialSystem starts when a crime is committed and an officer of the law is notified. It doesn’t always have to be under the Criminal Code but can be a civil crime as well. As an example, one could look at the flow of a criminal trial. Using someone who has had an indictable charge laid against them will be best for this example. First, the jury is selected, Crown presents opening statement, Crown examines witness (direct and cross examination), Defence opening sentence, Defence examines witness (direct and cross), Crown rebuts, Defence presents rebuttal, Counsel delivers closing arguments, the judge gives charge to the jury, the jury deliberates, and the jury returns a verdict. As you can imagine this process is/can be very tedious. This process can also be very lengthy; for instance, in 1973 in the case of Peter Demeter, he was charged with murder in the first degree after he bludgeoned his wife in their family garage. Theincident happen on July 18th, 1973 and Demeter wasn’t convicted till December 6th, 1974. This was the longest trial in Canadian history taking a year and a half to complete. This is a perfect example of how long it can take for the full process to complete.
Those who are opposed to this system point out that this is a system of procedural justice and not substantive justice; whereas substantive due process is a real justice. Procedural process only goes through the motions of what looks like justice. Another criticism of the Adversarial System is that a higher value is placed on winning, than actually finding the truth. Lawyers are more likely to hide the evidence that is not favourable to their side regardless of whether it would prove the innocence or guilt of the person on trial. Another criticism is that while we all have the right to be heard in a court of law and in front of a neutral judge and an jury, we apparently do not have the right to equal representation. In general, the more money a client has, the better the attorney that can be hired, and thus the better the chances are of winning the case. Some even feel that too many poor and minorities are in prison because of the inequity within this system.
There have been many wrongful conviction stories in the news over the years. Many would say that those in the news are the lucky ones; what about the individuals who are doing time in prison for a wrongful conviction? Even the Justices’ agree that there is a problem with the Adversarial System, “People who are well represented at trial do not get the max penalty … I have yet to see a max penalty case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court. Applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial.”(Ginsburg, 2010). There may not be a better system available at this time but that does not mean that change is not necessary. Even some judges who hear criminal cases are in favour of change. If there is evidence that becomes available and proves an individual’s innocence it must be heard – a person should be exonerated no matter when the truth is found. No person who is innocent should ever be sentenced to life in prison when there is evidence that proves their innocence. But in the meantime, another person proclaiming his innocence creeps closer to their days of dying in a federal prison; and we still see more and more people being exonerated after serving years and even decades in prison, wrongfully convicted.