Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How presumptuous of that silly defendant to plead not guilty

Heard on a national morning television show (discussing the Craigslist killing in Boston):

Reporter: "The big question now is why he did it."

Well, I'm glad that we have, after only a few days of investigation, settled the question of guilt. A defendant was arrested 3 days ago. Clearly that settles it. Why wait for the state to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he did in fact commit the crime? Really, why bother with that tedious step at all. We all know he must have done it if the police would arrest him and the D.A. would charge him. It's so much more convenient that we are left only to wonder why he did it. And now the D.A. is detailing all of the clear-cut evidence against the guy. On national television. Glad to see he's taking his ethical duty not to try his case in the media seriously.

Not a single use of the word alleged. No pretense of still holding out the belief that the defendant has not been proven guilty of anything. Not even the reporter is wasting any breath on the presumption of innocence. I've long known the presumption of innocence is dead, but it's dismaying to be reminded that no one even bothers to fake it anymore.


BellsforStacy said...

I thought the same thing. His fiancee is adamant that they have the wrong guy. I know that doesn't mean much, but what the media's doing to his family is outrageous.

And if he is exonerated, you can't take any action against them (the press). Just like the Duke boys. Tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. And you can't do anything about it.

S said...

At least in the Duke case, the DA was held accountable for lying about the evidence!

I always think of poor Richard Jewell, whose life was ruined because he was the first person on the scene of the Olympic Park bombing. He carried the stain of being that suspect until he died (too young) even though he had long since been cleared and the real bomber had been identified.

BellsforStacy said...

The DA was eventually held accountable. And he did have to declare bankruptcy, so that's good. But any time any of those boys go for a job interview and get googled by an employer, the case and the trial will come up. That's a lasting effect that punishing the DA won't fix.

I remember Jewell and when he died. That was a terrible tragedy.

S said...

Amen, sister! And that is why police and prosecutors need to think carefully before charging anyone with a crime. There are possibly devestating consequences just from being charged.

I have a (possibly vain) hope that the Duke guys were so publicly exonerated and the DA was so publicly disgraced that future job interviews won't get hung up on that arrest issue for too long. Of course, Tim Masters was also pretty publicly exonerated (headline news on CNN) and still can't get a job. So, yeah, my hope is definitely not justified.

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