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The Law that makes two witnesses necessary
to conviction, is a license to committ all imaginable
villainies in the sight of one.

It is less improbable that a man will has committ
any given crime, than that another
will swear it upon him falsely.

It is more probable that 100 murders will
be committed if men know that one a single
witness will not be heard in proof of them,
than it is that one will execution of an innocent person should
take place from the trusting to a single

If we æstimate still more accurately, we
may say, that it is an improbability still a hundred times
more improbable
N. B. The chance of for Perjury that still remains
when 2 witnesses are conclusive, & the chance
against Perjury when one is, by his testimony being
overborne by opposite evidence, are left to be taken into
the account. A Law requiring
two begets a
false reliance
upon number.

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Thus much as to the direct mischief : as to
the reflex the opinion of insecurity may
be violent that is generated by the execution
of an innocent man upon perjured evidence: but this
however temporary: but the opinion of insecurity
that would be maintained by such
a provision in the law would be a thousand
times more violent, & would have no end but
with the Law.

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It is impossible that could have ever been the
Law — it never has been the Law — It never
has been generally understood to be the Law notwithstanding
the explicitness of the word — because there has
always been a practice as conspicuous as the
Law to render the certain to contend with & to controal

The Civilians to make all things even have
introduced torture; and one witness added to the
mangled members of the accused in their computation have made two:
It is thus the wisdom of the love of an atrocious
jurisprudence corrects the errors of his
humanity —

If you ask him for the wisdom perspecuity of his law
they he shew you this — if for the humanity of
it, he shews you that & There are more who
know how to ask for humanity in a law
than for wisdom: it was this therefore that they
put most apparent in sight.

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The Law which makes a man perish upon
the deposition of two witnesses, says Montesquieu,
is fatal to the liberty of Society: I do not
absolutely comprehend this: but what I comprehend
better is, that a Law which admits
not of a man's perishing but upon the deposition
of 2 witnesses would be fatal to
society itself.

I can concede that
it might have been very dangerous to the faction
of that at
but I can concede also that if one had not
been enough, theythe might with a very little more
trouble have bought two.

Identifier: | JB/051/001/001
"JB/" can not be assigned to a declared number type with value 51.


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evidence; procedure code

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procedure evidence number





text sheet

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jeremy bentham


[[watermarks::gr [crown motif] [lion with vryheyt motif]]]


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