Is the judicial system portrayed as flawed In Cold Blood?

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In In Cold Blood, Truman Capote certainly outlines the many ways in which the legal odds were severely stacked against defendants Dick Hockman and Perry Smith, and one could argue that the judicial system is portrayed as not just flawed, but outright corrupt.

Defendants are legally entitled to a fair and impartial judge and jury during their trial, and yet the judge who presided over the case was known to be a close friend of the Clutter family and the jury also were familiar with the family. The defendants legally and ethically should not have been tried by a judge and jury who were friends/directly familiar with the victims of the case.

Additionally, Capote provides evidence that Dick Hockman and Perry Smith clearly suffered from untreated mental illness and were likely not acting of sound mind when they murdered the Clutter family. In the trial, the issue of the men's mental health was not adequately addressed, and the men's lawyer never had the men examined by a psychiatrist.

The prosecution argued that the men were heartless killers who needed to be executed in order to protect the public, since they could possibly get parole with a life sentence. The pro-death penalty jury returned a guilty verdict within forty minutes, and the men were sentenced to death by hanging. Because the defense attorney did not try to his best ability to prove that the men were suffering from mental illness and needed treatment, the already biased judge and jury readily accepted the fear mongering of the prosecution.

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