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Innocent until Proven Guilty

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by rowd, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. rowd

    rowd Spark Maker

    Let's dissect this for a minute. I hear this all the time from accused defendants, ACLU lawyers, and other crying liberals.
    The fact is, yes you are under the law, presumed innocent. But in Reality <small>(that's the real world)</small> you are a suspect. If you were not a suspect, you would not be under arrest. There is <u>nothing</u> wrong with the police handcuffing you and marching you to the station for arraignment. That's the price for being accused and under suspicion. It serves to notify the general public that this person is in fact under suspicion and the public should be aware of that fact. It serves to prevent the "suspect" from getting away in the event he runs. It alerts the public that something is "wrong" and attention should be paid. It serves as a deterrent. If you think this is embarrassing, well then maybe you won't go down that road. I'm sick and tired of defendants like <A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/26/nyregion/26PERP.html?todaysheadlines=&pagewanted=all&position=top">this</A> complaining about the "treatment" they think they should receive.
    As the article says "<i>same walk, nicer shoes</i>" your still the one under the cloud. *TELL IT TO THE JUDGE*
  2. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    NYTimes, rowd, consider the source.

    Nevertheless, good topic and good explaination of the issue. Yes, you are innocent, but as you have stated, you are a suspect, which already separates you from a law abiding citizen.
  3. -Ken

    -Ken Guest


    As the local representative of the "crying liberals" I would like to point out
    the decimation a mistake could have on an individual's life.

    To illustrate my point, suppose there were several incidents of attempted child
    rape in your neighborhood. To complicate things, you happen to drive through
    this section of your neighborhood on your way home from work. Your car is seen
    around the time of the attack and identified because it had been seen several times
    cruising through the area by different people.

    You are brought down to the police station, in handcuffs and the media is present.

    You are photographed and described as a suspect in the attempted child kidnapping
    and molestation case. The Media is within its rights to report the news. They were
    very careful to use the word suspect and to report that the police had not yet released
    a statement.

    After it is verified that you had nothing to do with the attacks and you are released,
    the news media dutifully reports this update.

    I cannot imagine the damage to my life this could cause. Even if you were tried and
    found innocent, you would be tainted for life.

    How do you compensate someone for a mistake like that? Isn't it better to not parade
    "suspects" for publicity?

    Now, a convicted criminal is a different story. This is someone who has been found
    guilty of a crime and now can be dragged through the papers.

    Or at least, that's my take on it.
    Great subject, by the way!
  4. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I don't have much sympathy for people like Rigas. And besides, the media was all over him before anybody showed up at his door to arrest him.

    However, what I am wondering is how the media knows where and when these arrests are taking place? Do the police officers inform them? Why were there cameras present when Rigas was arrested?

    Believe it or not, I have to agree, at least to some extent, with Ken's post. I can't imagine the damage done to a man unjustly accused of molesting a child. And look at what the media did to Richard Jewel. Why the fuck did they feel it necessary to tell the world that he collected porno movies?
  5. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    When did it change from "Innocent until proven guilty" to "guilty, even if proven innocent"? It is becoming a more and more common occurrence in society and the media isn't helping any.

    I take into account the Alligator Alley Detainees. Three young men who's whose lives where damaged, quite possible beyond repair, because of false accusations. Every major media station was on this story, every one of them with their own opinion. They lost their jobs over this, yet they where innocent. or should I say, "Guilty even though proven innocent."
  6. Ravenink

    Ravenink Veteran Member

    innocent until proven guilty is a very important legal concept, as a social construct however, it has proven to be lacking in its implementation. While I have empathy for those who are falsely accused and face hardship because of that, this is an extremely rare occurence in my eyes and it is because of the strict need for overpowering evidence in a succesful prosecution that this does not happen more often. While I don't think suspects need to be paraded around as proof of a solved case, if the media latches on to that image nothing can be done to correct the situation without endangering the first amendment. Of course one could argue for libel laws more similar to Great Britain's, but that is another story entirely.
  7. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

    I have never been able to figure out where "Innocent until proven guilty" came from. Too much Perry Mason or Adam-12 perhaps?

    The relevant sections of the U.S. Constitution (quoted above) merely state that you have the right to not be unfairly accused, you don't have to imcriminate yourself, you have the right to a fair and speedy trial, and you have the right to due process of law.

    What I read above is that the law has every right to presume (based upon just cause) that you are guilty. But they cannot send you to prison or execute you until you are proven guilty.
  8. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Frank, thanks for that angle and the Amendments. As Rowd and you, I feel I am on this side of the fence on the issue.

    Sure, we don't throw people in jail for being innocent, or at least try not to, but being a suspect, unfortunately, puts people in to a different shelf.
  9. Pyrion

    Pyrion Liquid Metal Nanomorph

    The funny thing is, the right to a "speedy trial" is something that the accused never wants. The less time there is for the defense to make its case, the higher the chance of the prosecution getting away with conviction with little more than "just cause".
  10. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

    Or in the case of David Westerfield who was convicted of kidnaping and murdering a seven year-old girl in San Diego in February this year... his defense invoked his client's Constitutional right to a "speedy trial".
    CW says they were banking on the case going to trial quickly, so that the prosecution would not have time to put together an airtight case.
    Fortunately, the DNA and other evidence arrived in time.
  11. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

    This is the consitutional embodiment of the common law dictum of innocence until proven guilty. The deprivation of the rights is accomplished only by a trial, thus, until such, the innocence, in the legal sense is preserved, as no punishment is possible. Most states, especially penal law states, declare the concept in statute.

    The amendments do not prohibit seizure, or incarceration while under suspicion, rather describe the limitations of such. No one in the US, except in certain federal cases, certain contempt cases, and certain military cases, is held after the presentation of a writ of habeas corpus without a grand jury indictment.

    There are horrible exceptions of abuse on both sides, but, quite clearly, the protections exist not so much to prevent abuse, but to curb the power of the government to create a dictatorship. The abuse, sadly, seems to creep in by itself, aided by egotistical and unscrupulous lawyers on both sides of the aisle, in both criminal and civil cases.

    Obviously, states have either probable cause hearings, or limits as to how long one can be held without charge, to prevent the really ugly things from happening. That, given the massive burthen on our courts in urban areas, so few are wrongly convicted, and so few walk totally free, the system, holes and all does rather well.

    It can please neither those who hate all government, nor those who believe that mere non-conformity should be capitally punished.

    I have often thought every school day should begin with the recitation of the Bill, and certainly every court trial, but am afraid that few judges nowadays have even seen the Bill, nonetheless digested it, and as for the ability of our young to read......

    All good wishes,
  12. EMIG

    EMIG Yup

    There have been to my knowledge two recent cases where the lives of the innocent were destroyed by false accusations.

    First there was Richard Jewell who was wrongly fingered by the FBI for setting off the bomb during the Atlanta Olypmic games.

    Then there was Steven Hatfill, the scientist whose life has been destroyed because the FBI has investigated him very publicly. To date he hasn't been charged with anything.
  13. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    Agreed. And it's the one-level-above-tabloid crap like <A HREF="http://www.prospect.org/webfeatures/2002/06/rozen-l-06-27.html">this</A> that get's a person hung without a jury.
  14. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

  15. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

  16. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    Let's not forget Raymond Donovan who was accused of sanctioning payoffs as a private businessman.

    A Special Prosecutor inquiry into the matter ended with Donovan being completely cleared.

    I remember him coming out of the Courthouse and asking 'Where do I go to get my reputation back'?

    An idiot of a young reporter perhaps seeking to catch him off guard asked him a ridiculous question regarding the inquiry that I can't recall.

    Donovan just looked at him in disgust, shook his head, did not answer and moved on.

    So the question stands- Where do people injured by the system go to get their reputations back?

    On a side note- it was recently in the news that a man who had been convicted of rape was released after many years in prison when DNA evidence proved he could not have done the crime. He was convicted solely on the eyewitness testimony of the victim. He is not eligible nor interested in any monetary compesation for wrongful imprisonment. The state did apologize.

    The press reported the victim is having a hard time dealing with the news but did not say whether it is because he was released, was wrongfuly imprisioned based on her testimony, the real criminal is still at large or some combination.

    In cases like this, does not society have an obligation to at least provide counseling to both of these people should they wish it?
  17. mikeky

    mikeky Member

    I'll pose these questions: does the public not have a right to know about those arrested for potential crimes? Do we really want suspects arrested and held in secret? Does the information released in high profile cases like the DC sniper not serve a greater purpose to allow the public to return to normal?
  18. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I wonder about a law for the media:

    When you announce the arrest of an individual you have to announce the clearing, though release before trial or acquittal or even releasing after conviction in the same manner you announced the arrest and/or conviction. If front page announcement of his arrest with banner headlines you must announce he is innocent in the same page with the same headline.

    I really don't know much more we can do. I am not in favor of secrecy of the charges and/or outcome. What if a bunko artist is released on bail? The public has a right to be wary even if he has not been convicted. The same hold true for the pedophile, etc.
  19. drslash

    drslash It's all about the beer

    My longstanding question on this issue is: Is the right of freedom of the press greater or more important that the right of due process of law, i.e. a fair trial? IMO, the right of an individual to get a fair trial out weighs the rights of the press. In the press's quest for profits, the rights of the innocent and guilty are trampled on by tainting potential jurors. I believe in Britain, after an arrest is made the reporting about a case must cease.
  20. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    Dear Friends,
    It is indeed illegal in GB to comment upon matters sub judice. Nor would it ever occur to a fair-minded person here so to do. The breadth of our freedoms presumes a depth of responsibility not always demonstrated. We appear to be caught up in a government by fear, to wit, if an act is not prohibited by statute it is somehow allowed by jus naturale. This is utter bunk, and the lack of discipline in our society will eventually cause the necessary revocation of our freedom. I never comment upon case specifics during a trial, although I may try to explain law. To write, even here, about cases which are still at bar is anathema to a fair minded justice system. If we were disciplined, jury pools would not be corrupted.
    To put profits before duty is unworthy of a free press. To argue that the Post sells well and therefore is necessary is only defensible if the only obligation of the press is to its purveyors' shareholders. While no logical fallacy is therein contained, it is nonetheless morally abhorent. Not all that is logical is moral, nor is all that is allowed good.
    To speculate upon the guilt of a defendant before the bar is vile.

    All good wishes,

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