Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Presumption of Innocence

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the presumption that one is innocent unless and until one is proven guilty. The phrase presumption of innocence was traditionally expressed by the Latin maxim ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat (“The burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”). 

In many states, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11. Under the presumption of innocence, the legal burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which thus restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony presented in court. The prosecution must, in most cases prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused must be acquitted.

Under the Justinian Codes and English common law, the accused is presumed innocent in criminal proceedings, and in civil proceedings (like breach of contract) both sides must issue proof.

            In the days leading up to the hearing of the Senate committee for confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a statement that Kavanaugh deserves the presumption of innocence.” It makes sense to this writer that everyone would assume that someone is innocent until they are proven guilty, but that is not always the case. Even though the presumption is common in many walks of life, it apparently applies only to criminal cases.

            Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Kavanaugh receives “no presumption of innocence or guilt” as a nominee seeking confirmation. He calls the Senate hearing to give Kavanaugh’s accuser an opportunity to present her case a “fact-finding proceeding” but not a legal proceeding. Therefore, he and his fellow Democrats/liberals/progressives continue to act as though Kavanaugh is guilty even without witnesses or evidence.

Find the facts, and then let the Senate and let the American people make their judgment not whether the person’s guilty or innocent, but whether the person deserves to have the office.

            This writer learned something about presumption of innocence. It seems that no one can assume that they will be considered innocent until proven guilty or be given the benefit of the doubt. The Senate circus in the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh has proven this to be so.

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