Mar 10, 2022

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: What is a fair trial?


In the all-time favourite children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we see Alice giving evidence as a witness in a trial to decide whether the Knave of Hearts is guilty of stealing the tarts. The King presides over the trial as the judge, along with a 12-member jury. After hearing the accusation, the King at first asks the jury to give the verdict even without hearing any witnesses, and then proceeds to intimidate the witnesses.


Did you know that the King’s actions as the judge go against certain basic principles of justice? 


Some of these principles are:

  • The judge must listen to both parties and give the accused a fair opportunity to defend themselves.
  • No person should be a judge in their own case.
  • A person accused of any offence cannot be forced to be a witness against themselves.
  • A person cannot be punished for the same offence more than once. 


The Knave accused of stealing in the story would have certainly stood a better chance of a fair trial if the judge had followed basic principles of justice

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