One thing I have learned in my overseas involvement is that the criminal justice systems and courts in other countries do not operate in ways familiar to Americans. In South Africa, for example, there is no jury system. A single judge hears and decides a case. A judge can assign two assessors with special training or experience to help him understand the evidence, but in the end, it is the judge alone who renders the verdict.
Another area in which we are different is that of civil damages. Other countries find it incomprehensible that we award millions of dollars in damages for what seem silly reasons, or that we award damages way beyond the actual dollar loss to a victim. The United States seems alone in awarding large amounts in civil damages. In Shirley McKie's case in Scotland, for example, the defense team carefully calculated Shirley's expected life income as a police constable based on anticipated promotions and pay raises, then deducted the income she might expect from a lower paying career. The amount for which she sued was £750,000, approximately the amount she would have lost in her lifetime as a result of the erroneous identification. As the case dragged on for years and the government dragged its feet in settling, she upped the amount to try and force a settlement. In the end, the government agreed to the £750,000 settlement as tacit acknowledgement of her lost earnings. Can you imagine what an erroneous identification in the US would be worth if you went through a decade of hell fighting an intransigent police force to have to prove your innocence? A lot more than the approximately $1,250,000 her settlement was worth at the time, I suspect.
To bring this discussion back to Fred van der Vyver's case, if he decides to sue for damages he will never be able to approach the amount for which we in the US would sue. Try to imagine what a lawsuit in the US would be worth if a national police force blatently fabricated several different types of evidence to convict an obviously innocent person. Fred's possibilities are much more limited and no decision has been reached yet on whether to sue, or how much such a suit should be worth. But here is a link to the latest news article in South Africa speculating on such a suit (the exchange rate last August was about 7 Rand to one US dollar, but with the rapidly falling value of the dollar, who knows what it will be if or when any civil suit is settled):
http://www.thepost.co.za/?fSectionId=&f ... 564C913014
Meanwhile, Kasey should be in possession of my full report on the fingerprint evidence at this point and should be able to publish images of the fabricated evidence and the results of my experiments in next week's Detail. Perhaps, following that, we can get Mike Grimm to send Kasey his report on the fabricated footwear impression.
I might also add that I anticipate presenting a detailed case study on the van der Vyver fabrications at the Nebraska and California Division conferences this year. If you would like to hear a full discussion of the evidence, check these dates: Nebraska will be April 8-9 and California will be May 5-8.