The Jagged Edge: Standing at the Very Precipice of Reason

“Jagged Edge” (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Jagged Edge is a 1985 American neo-noir[2] legal thriller written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Richard Marquand which also marked the last film released in his lifetime. The film stars Glenn CloseJeff BridgesPeter Coyote[3] and Robert Loggia. A lawyer reluctantly takes the case of a man accused of killing his wife but it remains uncertain if he is guilty or not.

The film received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success. Loggia was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.[4]

Plot (Major spoilers ahead!)

A masked intruder breaks into the beach house of San Francisco socialite Paige Forrester, ties her to her bed, rips open her shirt, and kills her with a hunting knife. Her husband Jack, arrested for her murder, tries to hire high-profile lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him. Barnes is reluctant to take the case since an incident with district attorney Thomas Krasny, her former boss, caused her to quit practicing criminal law.

Krasny tells Barnes that prisoner Henry Styles hanged himself, which distresses her. Barnes visits Sam Ransom, a private detective who also used to work for Krasny and who changed careers at the same time as Barnes. Barnes decides to take the case.

Barnes and Forrester prepare for the trial and eventually sleep together. Ransom warns Barnes that Forrester is just trying to make her care more about his case. Her office begins receiving anonymous letters containing non-public case details and an analysis shows they were typed on a 1942 Corona typewriter.

In a pre-trial meeting, Barnes tells the judge that Krasny has a history of not meeting discovery obligations. The prosecution’s case relies on circumstantial evidence and two of its key witnesses are discredited by Barnes.

Krasny calls Eileen Avery, who had an affair with Forrester, to testify. As Avery details her relationship with Forrester, Barnes finds it eerily similar to her own relationship with him. She feels manipulated and now believes Forrester is guilty but continues out of a sense of duty.

Another note arrives at her office saying, “He is innocent. Santa Cruz. January 21, 1984. Ask Julie Jensen.” Barnes calls Jensen to testify that she was attacked in the same manner as Paige Forrester. All the details match, but she says her attacker seemed to stop himself from killing her. As Krasny objects that the attack on Jensen is unrelated to the one on Forrester, he lets slip that his office had investigated the attack and not revealed it in discovery. In chambers, the judge threatens to have Krasny disbarred. Krasny insists that Forrester planned Paige’s murder for 18 months, he attacked Jensen to create an alibi for himself, and he is the writer of the anonymous letters.

The judge forbids Krasny from presenting his theory to the jury and Forrester is found not guilty. Barnes announces to the media that she left the district attorney’s office when Krasny suppressed evidence that proved Henry Styles was innocent. Krasny walks off in disgust.

Barnes goes to Forrester’s house to celebrate, and they sleep together again. In the morning, she discovers, in a closet, a 1942 Corona typewriter matching the analysis of the anonymous notes. She takes it and flees.

When Forrester calls, she tells him she found the typewriter. Forrester insists on coming over. Barnes calls Ransom, on the brink of telling him that Forrester is a killer, but instead hangs up. A masked figure breaks in and confronts her in her bedroom. As he starts to attack, Barnes throws back the covers to reveal a handgun. She shoots him several times until he falls to the floor. Ransom comes in and unmasks the attacker: Forrester.


“Cape Fear” – 1991 Film Synopsis

Source: Google

When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) of rape charges, Max spends 14 years in prison. But after Max’s release, knowing about Sam’s deceit, he devotes his life to stalking and destroying the Bowden family. When practical attempts to stop Max fail, Sam realizes that he must act outside the law to protect his wife and daughter in Martin Scorsese’s remake of the classic 1962 thriller.

A note from this author:

So, what was the evidence against violent sex offender – Max Cady that Sam Bowden, being an attorney (the public defender) himself, knowingly withheld from full disclosure of the facts? Cady had violently assaulted, brutally raped and mercilessly beaten up a minor – a 16 year old girl – to a bloody mass of pulp. Cady knew it as being true; so did his own attorney – Sam Bowden.

When a thorough investigation was carried out, it became known to Bowden that the minor was sexually promiscuous and that she had at least 3 different lovers in each month. Regardless of this new and important information that came to light, Bowden refused to expose this fact during the trial because he felt that his own client (Cady) was a truly evil man who should justifiably (in Bowden’s opinion) be severely punished for having committed such a heinous crime.

While this author does not condone the actions of Bowden, we can definitely understand how he found himself at the precipice of reason. It is true that every defendant has a right to a just and fair defence – it is to be assumed that he/she is not guilty unless proven as being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As the Public Defender, it was Sam’s bounden duty to defend his client to the best of his ability, without having any preconceived notions of his guilt or not. Yet, he willfully chose to lose the case and his client – Cady – was forced to serve a sentence of fourteen long and tumultuous years, as part of his jail sentence. When Cady tried to appeal his case, he came across this important piece of hidden evidence that could have got him acquitted, he determined then to plot such a horrific revenge on Bowden and his family that they were left terror-struck, at the hands of a ruthless killer, till the very end of the movie. Needless to add that the audience too is left glued to their seats till the conclusion of this entire catastrophic event.

Why did Bowden act in the way that he did? Why did he choose to conceal critical evidence when he knew that it was legally and morally wrong? The answer lies in the LAW OF DOUBLE JEOPARDY. As per this law, the same person cannot be tried twice for the same crime based on the same conduct.


Double jeopardy


Written by Jerry Norton – Professor of Law, Loyola University

Chicago School of Law


Double jeopardy, in law, protection against the use by the state of certain multiple forms of prosecution.

In general, in countries observing the rule of double jeopardy, a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime based on the same conduct. If a person robs a bank, that individual cannot twice be tried for robbery for the same offense. Nor can one be tried for two different crimes based upon the same conduct unless the two crimes are defined so as to prohibit conduct of significantly different kinds. Thus, one cannot be tried for both murder and manslaughter for the same killing but can be tried for both murder and robbery if the murder arose out of the robbery. The defence of double jeopardy also prevents the state from retrying a person for the same crime after he has been acquitted. Nor can the state voluntarily dismiss a case after trial has begun in order to start over. In U.S. law, jeopardy does not attach until the jury is sworn in a jury trial or until the first witness is sworn in a bench trial. Actions before jeopardy attaches will not bar a subsequent prosecution. For example, if a judge dismisses a prosecution at a preliminary hearing for lack of evidence, this determination does not bar the government from initiating new charges for the same offense, since jeopardy will not have attached at that point. Also under U.S. law, conviction or acquittal in one state or nation does not always bar trial for the same criminal act in another.


Double jeopardy


The doctrine of double jeopardy is a rule that states that no one should be put twice in peril for the same offence. “No individual shall be arrested and punished for the same offence more than once,” the Indian Constitution said in article 20(2). The doctrine evolved from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, however, there are differences between the United States and England. In India, the scope of protection is restricted or limited. The doctrine existed in India prior to the Constitution of India, as evidenced by the General Clauses Act of 1897, Sections 300 and 26 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973.

The clause (2) of Art 20 provides that a person cannot be prosecuted and punished more than once for the same offence. The word ‘Prosecution’ under this article consists of three essential components to categorize the concept under this article.

Convicted and asks for a new trial. Convicted and the case is overturned. The case results in a hung jury. Can be tried at both the state and federal levels for the same crime.
Doesn’t apply if jury is prevented or unable to decide the case. Mistrial – case ends before verdict due to defense’s request. Hung jury – jury is hopelessly deadlocked and can’t come to an unanimous decision. And a defendant can face retrial on the same facts in two jurisdictions – state and federal.


2019 Hyderabad gang rape and murder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

In November 2019, the gang rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinary doctor in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad, sparked outrage across India.[1] Her body was found in Shadnagar on 28 November 2019, the day after she was murdered. Four suspects were arrested and, according to the Cyberabad Metropolitan Police, confessed to having raped and killed the doctor.[2]

The Telangana Police Department stated the victim parked her scooter near a toll plaza, catching the attention of two lorry drivers and their assistants. According to police, they deflated her tire, pretended to help her, and pushed her into nearby bushes, where they raped and smothered her. Allegedly, they loaded her corpse onto a lorry and dropped it onto the roadside.

The police arrested four men based on the evidence gathered from CCTV cameras and from the victim’s mobile phone. The accused were taken into judicial custody at Cherlapally Central Jail for seven days. The Chief Minister of Telangana ordered the formation of a fast-track court to try the accused for their alleged crimes. The rape and murder elicited outrage in several parts of the country. Protests and public demonstration against rape were organised nationwide after the incident, with the public demanding stricter laws against rape and rapists. The Minister of Home Affairs criticised the Telangana Police and stated that the government intended to amend the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure to introduce laws for quicker punishment by fast-track courts.

All four accused were killed on 6 December 2019, under a bridge on the Bengaluru-Hyderabad national highway, while they were in police custody. According to the police, the suspects were taken to the location for a reconstruction of the crime scene, where two of them allegedly snatched guns and attacked the police. In the ensuing shootout, all four suspects were shot dead.[3] Some accused the police of extrajudicial execution,[4] while thousands of people celebrated the men’s deaths.[5]

The first post-mortem of the four accused who were killed in the encounter was conducted on the same day itself at a government hospital in Mahbubnagar from where the bodies were subsequently moved to the Gandhi Hospital. The Telangana High Court on 21 December ordered the re-post-mortem of the four accused. The second autopsy was done by a team of forensic experts of AIIMS, Delhi at a hospital in Hyderabad. After re-post-mortem, the bodies have been handed over to the next of kin after due identification process was done.[6] In 2022, an Inquiry Commission appointed by the Supreme Court of India concluded in its report that encounter was staged, and the matter was transferred to the Telangana High Court for further action. The name of the 4 suspects who were killed in encounter were Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, Jolu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Mohammed Arif.

2019 Hyderabad Gangrape Case: Father Of Prime Accused Says His Son A Victim Of Fake Encounter

2019 Hyderabad Encounter: Cops’ “Intent To Cause Death,” Says Report from (Source:


Now, a note from this author:

I am neither a legal expert, nor a lawmaker, nor a legislator. As a layperson to the law, even I can see glaring loopholes that allow vast numbers of violent criminals to escape punishment for the grievous and heinous crimes that they have committed. One such law in question is the law of double jeopardy – if a person (guilty of the crime) is acquitted by a court of law because of lack of sufficient evidence, then he/she walks away scot-free and is highly likely to be a repeat offender of the same crime (s) or much worse. The law clearly states that the same person may not be tried for the same crime twice based on the same conduct. The burden of proof lies in the hands of the prosecution and if the defendant cannot be proved as being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (or if the evidence provided by the prosecution is sketchy and totally circumstantial), then the court of law is forced to acquit him/her, regardless of their knowing the person is, for all intents and purposes, truly guilty. In this manner, so many criminals have not only gone scot-free for their horrific crimes against humanity – they keep repeating these crimes because a faulty law protects their case.

When illogical thinking overtakes reason – when a person finds himself/herself standing at the very precipice of reason, he /she is likely to take the law into his/her own hands. That is how good people become criminals themselves. While such behaviour is punishable by law and morally reprehensible, one can, at least understand, how illogical behaviour overtook the cause of reason and of being reasonable. When the wheels of justice grind so slowly -or not at all in many cases – then, someone decides to take the law into their hands and to exercise their own form of “wild justice.”

Let it be known that this author does NOT condone, tolerate or accept such behaviour. Who are we to judge other people? Let the courts, the judges and the jury decide the case impartially. And of course, God and Karma will certainly do the rest – even if it takes several years for the truth to come to light.

As long as there are no proper amendments &/or exceptions to the law – worded in a water-tight fashion – there will be always be some loophole in its fairly snug netting, for either criminals or their corrupt lawyers to slip through unscathed. Let the legal experts, the lawmakers and the legislators make water-tight laws so that we can all live safer lives in a world devoid of fear.

We really cannot expect the world to be a better place to live in until such concrete legal steps to correct this grave issue are taken up, as a matter of utmost priority, by the governments and legislators from all around the globe.

Don’t you think likewise? I certainly do.

What about you? I am sure you agree. True, isn’t it?

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