The principle here is that we have a legal duty to testify truthfully in response to a subpoena, and failing to do so is a crime that can be punished. There are specific carve outs, like the fifth amendment, or the various legally defined privileged communication areas (e.g. legal/medical details). But in order to avoid jail time you need to make one of these arguments before the court and win.
 Edit: I looked it up, and in fact Manning has already been granted immunity for this case. So the fifth is right out the window, there is no crime in which she can implicate herself by testifying.
* she was offered immunity
She's not testifying against herself. She's testifying against Assange.
Manning has already been tried, found guilty, and then pardoned for her crimes. She's basically immune to anything she testifies. But investigators need the evidence as they're building a case against Assange.
Besides, she hasn't pled the fifth (because she can't as it makes no sense.)
/I'll table the unusual bit.
I’m no expert here and have not thought about this extensively, so I have no strong opinion here. That said, at first glance:
* It seems reasonable that courts need some power to compel people to cooperate with investigations — otherwise they’d be unable to act on certain kinds of crimes, conspiracies, etc.
* What alternate justice system would you suggest specifically, which is presumably more fair and effective that this one?
As for acting on certain kinds of crimes, the job of prosecutors is to gather evidence, and find people willing to testify, to support their case. They already do this, sometimes offering things in exchange for testimony (such as immunity for their part in the crime), to get witnesses to cooperate and offer testimony that can be believed. If they can't get someone to voluntarily testify, however, it seems counterproductive to me to toss them in jail to punish them for not cooperating; from the outside, that to me makes it look like their case isn't very good to begin with.
What more do they need? Compelling testimony from an uncooperative witness isn't necessary for a case, nor is it even very helpful: such a witness can't be considered reliable or trustworthy.
In your world guilty parties walk because the state has no power to make anyone do anything. Everything is based upon the prosecutor being Sherlock Holmes and always finding exactly what they need. The real world doesn't work that way.
Are the italicized qualifiers intended to mean something other than that?
If you're on trial for murder, the prosecution would never call on you to testify. Why would they? Of course you're going to claim that you didn't do it. Your testimony would be useless.
Murderers are tried with physical evidence linking them to the crime, and witness testimony from other people. Murderers don't even need to be present to be convicted; this happens sometimes if they're considered a danger in the courtroom, or have fled.
From a quick search, it appears that a trial in the US cannot begin without the defendant present, although it may proceed if they leave afterwards depending on circumstances.
It's self-evident that most of the actions of the criminal justice system are cruel. I think anyone would agree. However, that phrase in our constitution explicitly leaves the door open for our criminal justice system to perform cruel behaviors, as long as they are in line with the standards of the day (or, if you're an originalist, of the standards of 1791).
So, my response would be that you've tabled the only portion of the debate that is relevant. I'll freely concede that the criminal justice system is cruel, but I wouldn't then argue that the system falls afoul of the 8th amendment.
States convention, anyone?
I think there's a ton of opportunity to totally re-work the criminal justice system within the confines of the current amendments. I think that kind of change would be a lot more politically feasible in the near-term (as in, you could make such changes with 45-55% of the population's acceptance, rather than 65-80%).
The 8th amendment says "you can't be worse than X", but it doesn't put any constraints on how "good" we can make the system. I think the political reality is that we need to improve the system significantly before we can constitutionally constraint ourselves to that new bar.
Imprisoning people who have committed crimes is not cruel. It's literally the job of every justice system to do that.
If there was some sort of abuse then sure, but there hasn't been to my knowledge.
This makes it usual or common, but it doesn't make it not cruel.
> Imprisoning people who have committed crimes is not cruel.
Imprisoning someone is absolutely cruel. It may be common and accepted (and it certainly is in our current criminal justice system). It may even be just and proper, but it is still cruel.
That's not what is being called into question. It's imprisoning someone for the express purpose of coercing testimony that smells here.
All imprisonment is an attempt to constrain undesired and incentivize desired behavior by imposing unacceptable costs for non-compliance (in fact, so is all law); it is inherently coercive.
Depriving them of the ability to work and be a productive citizen. Depriving them of their existing assets (fines), and as stated by Manning and others, that grand juries have tended in the past to victimize those they call as witnesses.
Unfair? Unnecessary? Unfitting of the wrong? Those are all things I don't know enough to really say or discuss in an educated manner.
Why would I assume you meant the colloquial "cruel" and not the legal "cruel" here? Perhaps you should edit to clarify if your intent was the former as opposed to the latter.
Perhaps you should also edit to clarify your intent.
This is the same line of reasoning Alex Jones uses to justify his conspiracies. "The government had Project Northwoods, why isn't [conspiracy] likely?!"
I personally don't like death penalties (due to their misuse as a political tool and the general high error rate of judgement) but I believe proper lethal injection fits perfectly within the bounds of not being cruel nor unusual.
So, if someone said that lethal injection was more humane if administered in direct sunlight while the injectee was hanging upside down due to blood movement some-such... assuming they were telling the truth about the efficacy then it'd likely pass the 8th amendment.
Belgium perhaps ?
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affaire_du_Samusocial (use Google translate)
Which country has a fair justice/government system in Europe ? Because I don't think there's any ... I don't know about serious government crimes in every country, but certainly they're not exactly hard to find.
One explanation: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-137-10929-3_...
- Compelling testimony. Something like "if you testify that you helped this guy rob a bank, we won't go after you for the crime." Usually this involves signing documents swearing to what your testimony is, so you can't go back later.
- Getting more than just testimony. Getting documents (emails, texts, phone records) is often much more valuable because you can't play the "I can't remember" card with those. And lawyers can use those as evidence, and sometimes use the information in those records to get testimony (i.e. "How could you not remember sending all these emails setting up the bank robbery?!" -- "OK, OK, I was there")
- If it's egregious, you can be sanctioned by the court. If you're claiming you don't remember if you saw the defendent murder 3 people right in front of you last week, you better have a pretty good reason for why you can't remember.
I think the same concept exists in many civilized countries. In Germany it's called Erzwingungshaft (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzwingungshaft) and can be up to half a year for refusing to testify (though you can refuse to testify against yourself or close relatives without repercussions, similar to the 5th amendment).
Erzwingungshaft is incarceration for failure to pay fines or penalties.
(1) Ordnungshaft is what you get if you fail to pay the fine (Ordnungsgeld) for refusing to testify.
(2) Erzwingungshaft is a separate thing, has nothing to do with a fine and can be up to half a year.
UK, Canada, and even Sweden all have compelled testimony.
Rule of law is a spectrum, on one end is a place like say, Norway - where everyone is treated with a minimum of respect, criminal justice is mostly reformative, where only a very, very small number of individuals at the top of the social hierarchy will be treated different, mostly, people are treated the same by the law.
On the other end of the spectrum is a place like Somalia, the state has no respect for the individual, criminal justice is punitive and everyone is treated differently based on their social ranking.
In general, the poorer and more dictatorial a country, the more we expect it to be on the low side of this spectrum, and the richer and democratic, the better it should be.
The US is somewhere in the middle of these two, but for many of us, we would expect it to be higher up given the wealth of the country and the democratic nature of our government. I personally hail from a very poor country where our justice system is actually similar in rule of law to the one I feel Americans have.
In terms of this trial, personally I feel locking manning up is punitive and not intended to be cohersive. It's intended to make an example. In fact, I'm not sure why she is being tried at all, I though we had double jeopardy laws, she already went to trial and was imprisoned by the wikileaks debacle. It seems the government is grasping at straws to imprison legal citizens for doing acts that should be rewarded (whistle-blowing). Using the law on an ad-hock basis is exactly the type of behavior that I was mentioning, putting us further toward the Somalia side of the spectrum where rule of law is secondary to rule of power.
I'd agree with you much more if Manning hadn't already been tried and served time for the Wikileaks case.
I also think 18 months is far more punitive than coercive. If it was a month, which is a terribly long time to be confined in a cage, I'd find it more acceptable.
As it stands, 18 months is longer than many people serve for violent crimes. And this person already stood trial and was already imprisoned for this same case.
In terms of the guy sitting in jail for 3 years. I've heard of that. I strongly feel he should be released or tried on existing evidence (no need to violate the 5th). Two wrongs don't make a right.
The original comment we are answering seems to be correct:
> This shows the whole world how hopeless the US injustice system is. None of this would be possible in a civilized country.
Civilized being defined as the rule of law... it seems he is correct, as the proceedings against manning seem to violate the laws (both the 5th as well as double jeopardy)
Precedent, other things being worse... those don't address the original argument: this is America's barbarism. The example of the guy sitting in jail in-definitively seems to only support this perception, not detract from it. Of course, you are free to perceive it as you like. Some things we'll never agree on. :)
Manning actually has explicitly stated that she wishes the grand jury process (not merely the ability to compel testimony for that process) to be abolished completely; it is not clear that she feels contempt sanctions and compulsory testimony are improper outside of the grand jury context.
As for counsel for witnesses, they are allowed to hire lawyers. The lawyers aren't allowed in the room with them, but they are allowed to wait outside, and the witness is allowed to leave the room to consult with their lawyer, even after every single question. It's kind of silly, and I'm not really sure why that's the case, but it's hardly an absurd miscarriage of justice.
Also, Chelsea Manning would still wind up in jail over this if there weren't grand juries in the US, it would just be at trial instead.
No, she has not been pardoned. She received clemency, which is substantively different than a pardon.
That said, I don't disagree, I think I'm trying to say that there's no such thing as a civilized country if we're basing that on the sensibility of their legal system. Everything is on some spectrum of terrible to tolerable to the average person. The average person is not called to a grand jury, so it's not something they get riled up about.