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“The Curious Case of the Murder of Tupac Shakur”: Why Criminal Cases Can Take So Long?

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Fardeen Imran

Published on October 5, 2023, 08:38:14


Tupac Shakur, lawyers, legal consultation, legal advice, criminal case, legal trial


 More than two decades after Tupac Shakur's unsolved murder, the case has shown movement as Duane Keith Davis, in interviews and his memoir “Compton Street Legend,” admitted to being the front passenger of the white Cadillac that was carrying Shakur's killer, The crime scene, although simple on the surface, is the perfect example to highlight the many problematic aspects and intricate tangles of criminal trials and investigations, begging the question, what leads to such a case, complex and extending over two decades?

Looking into this tragedy, we must first understand the composition of “Crime,” which could be summed up in Latin as “actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea,” loosely translated as “an act becomes not criminal, till the mind is equally guilty of the crime.” Here, the make of a crime is given, holding the Conduct or the Actus Reus and the Intention or the Mens Rea. When these elements are present in a crime scene, we move to the next step which is establishing the chain between “act” and “harm.” An example of this “Chain of Causation” can be found in the act of murder, where to prove the crime, there needs to be proof of death and the proof of the acts and events leading up to that death, making sure that an alignment exists in this relationship of “cause” and “effect.”

An uninterrupted causal link between the act and the harm is a vital sequence that needs to be proven in court for the defendant to be tied to the crime, and the journey of proving these components and aligning them in court makes criminal defense a complex subject, especially in cases involving murder, assault, and intoxication.

Many of these cases drag on for months, years, or even decades, as seen in the case of Shakur. There are many reasons behind such delay, including the existence of reasonable doubt, investigation procedures and evidence gathering, complications in the case facts, medical and psychiatric evaluations, and even friction in the legal system, all of which we will explore below.

i) Gathering Case Facts

The first step to any legal proceeding requires a base plate of facts, essentially a narration of where, when, and what happened, who is suspected to be involved, who witnessed the involvement, and who was ultimately affected by it; the suspects, the witnesses, the victims and the environment around them.

Once gathered, the facts of a case may contain a simple one-to-one criminal interaction or have a web of actions, effects, and contributions, which make matters complicated in court. Tracing the effects back to the conduct becomes a cumbersome process, requiring investigation of events that, not just caused the harm, but also what led to them.

ii) Investigation and Evaluation

Tracing a crime scene requires an investigation of the individuals involved, the atmosphere around them, their intentions, their past, their connections, and even their capacity to commit such a crime or be present at a crime scene. The investigation requires the inclusion of not just legal platforms, but also members of many other departments, such as forensics or the police force.

There may be a need for detectives to make sense of the web of causes and effects, and also the need for medical or psychiatric professionals to evaluate case facts, analyze data such as DNA samples, and develop an understanding of the capacities and intentions of each of the members of the case. This exchange of information is sensitive and crucial to a case, which if interrupted, can delay the case, contaminate the facts, and even halt the legal process as a whole.

iii) Legal Friction

This essentially includes the friction that comes with the natural process of legal action, including scheduling, the priorities of the court, the attorneys, and their communication with clients, as well as the delay between a trial and the announcement of a sentence.

First and foremost, there are multiple members involved in any legal action, including lawyers, witnesses, court officials, prosecutors, and defendants; the court must align these parties and place them on one page before any conclusion can be reached. Even if the facts of the case are straightforward, reaching a sentence in a criminal case can be quite a long and difficult process, as a satisfactory sentence can not always be derived from just the facts.

And so cases like the murder of Shakur lead us to wonder about what goes behind the curtains of a legal trial, how little interruptions or delays can pollute the delicate nature of a case, and how important it is for a legal system to make sure there is an alignment between cause and effect, conduct and intention, the facts of a case and how they are presented in court; most importantly, how communication between a client and their lawyer is crucial to the turnover of the case.

While it is natural to feel frustrated during a criminal trial or be overwhelmed by its complexity, we can always streamline our legal process by seeking efficient and knowledgeable legal advice.

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