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Malicious lawsuits remain Achilles heel in the justice system

Apr 18,2018 - Last updated at Apr 19,2018

A true story: An octogenarian physician and respected member of community has been recently acquitted after a long episode of humiliation standing trial, wrongfully accused of sexual harassment. The court found that his secretary, the plaintiff, a long record of filing similar groundless complaints to blackmail victims like her latest boss.

Malicious complaints and lawsuits or threatened lawsuits vary in their scenarios, but all are meant for one thing: Your money or your reputation, or your life as you know it. 

People who throw themselves at moving cars and threaten to press charges if not paid, women who jump into the passenger seat of a car pulled over when the driver, say, stops at a supermarket to buy groceries threaten a scandal unless they take money and a thug who slashes the face of a shopkeeper refusing to pay protection money, then cuts his arm and files a complaint for a complaint are all cases that fall within this category of crimes that, even when the defendant is found not guilty, leave permanent scars on the lives of innocent people. 

The Penal Code, which was last modified in 2017 to address loopholes in the criminal justice system, does not have answers to this phenomenon, which is on the rise, partly due to the harsh economic conditions. 

Police have said that they must follow the procedures when they handle such cases and leave it to the judiciary to decide if the accused was guilty or not guilty. 

An expert in criminal law consulted for the purposes of this article, Mahdi Ateyyat, begs to differ. He believes that in a case like that of the doctor, police could have ended it on the spot had they carried out a simple background check on the complainant. They could have easily found that the woman was taking advantage of this legal loophole to make money. 

The phenomenon, he agrees, might even take the form of organised crime, when a group of criminals plot such conspiracies to extort money from their victims, especially through the easiest way: sexual harassment claims. 

This is not to say that complaints should not be taken seriously when people, especially women and minors, resort to the law to seek justice. But with the computerisation of the judicial process and availability of data at the fingertips of police officers, they should be able to smell malicious intents behind the complaint and facilitate bailing suspects, especially when they have clean criminal records and are respected members of society.  They may even arrest the right suspect and make sure justice is aptly served. 

Such a simple procedure would make a lot of difference. For one, it would encourage innocent people to say “no” to blackmailers when they know that good citizenship will be taken into account, while it will enhance public trust in the penal system and the state in general.

 

The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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Comments

It is up to us ordinary everyday people to allow this problem to grow and flourish or stamp it out before it gains any traction. The rogue person must not be permitted to win. Keeping accurate documentation of dates, times, places, eyewitnesses, and so on are bullet points to paving the groundwork for a favourable outcome against the fabricated phoney charges. Sure, some people are good actors and they can put forward a considerably convincing believable sequence of events. Here credibility becomes the primary issue.If the story appears to be incredible then it needs to be analyzed by a forensic expert to determine the validity or the allegations. A public awareness collaborative effort by all of us that may one day end up being victims of these newly invented crimes must be implemented before the bad person become more emboldened and continue with their sinister behaviours. Anyone can be subjected to indictment during the course of their lives, the proof is in our fortitude and determination to fight back with all of our might & not to give in and allow the bad person to win.

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