The criminal trial of Mrs Florence Maybrick, held in Liverpool, England during the height of the British Empire 1889, is widely regarded as one of the greatest travesties of justice in British legal history. Mrs Maybrick was tried for murdering her husband via arsenic poisoning. However, the trial became a morality trial when the learned judge, Mr Justice James Fitzjames Stephen, linked Mrs Maybrick's demonstrated adultery to her alleged desire to physically remove her husband by administering poison. The jury, which pronounced a guilty verdict, consisted of twelve untrained and unschooled men who were unable to grasp the technical evidence and were probably unduly influenced by the judge's summing-up and by the professional status of one of the medical witnesses for the prosecution. The case is a timely reminder today for an international audience of the fallibility and inherent weaknesses of the legal system and the desperate need to retain Courts of Criminal Appeal within the courts system.
Florence Maybrick and Jack the Ripper
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