Election Law Rights

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Here we go again.

I hope everyone remembers that Constitution/Government class they had to pass in order to graduate from high school. In case you don’t remember the executive branch of government includes police and carries out/enforces laws made by the legislative branch. Judicial branch (court system) evaluates laws (to determine if they are constitutional) and conducts trials for people accused of breaking laws. When an accused person is brought before a criminal court in the U.S. the accused person is considered innocent unless and until they are proven guilty *in the court of law* (not in the court of public opinion or church or whatever). I don’t care if you were there and saw the crime being committed by that person. I don’t care if you collected the evidence yourself and are perfect and know, for a fact, that none of the evidence was planted or contaminated. I don’t care if you did all the testing yourself. That person is innocent until they are proven guilty. Period.

If you’re the accused person, and it can happen to anyone, aren’t you glad that you get the benefit of the doubt? that you get some time to defend yourself?

Alrighty then. Sixth Amendment to the Constitution (not your personal god, not your almighty morals and judgy-ness – fucking Constitution that grants all of us much-needed rights). . .

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses a gainst him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

(was lazy and took that from Wikipedia)

So, speedy, public trial; impartial jury; assistance of counsel. The accused can represent himself if he wants, but that is waiving the right to counsel (and is a bad idea). The accused can skip the whole trial and go right to sentencing if they choose to plead guilty. The point is the accused in a criminal trial has a right to counsel. The accuser/state has counsel, too, and that counselor is working hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime they are accused of committing. The defense attorney represents the accused person, and it is their job to defend them to the best of their ability, to prevent their conviction. To the best of their ability, not what they think is enough based on their opinion, to the best of their ability.

Lots of defense attorneys work for accused people every day. The job of the defense attorney comes from the Constitution which is separate from the Church or from our personal opinions and whims. It’s not the defense attorney’s job to judge or decide how far they’ll go to defend the accused based on the evidence. It’s the defense attorney’s job to defend an accused person who is innocent to the best of their ability. Innocent. Until/unless they are proven guilty. While that defense attorney is working for the defendant, that person is innocent.

Preach from your high horse about how you know everything about the case and about how morals and ethics don’t apply for this one particular accused person, how they are clearly guilty even though you were not there for the crime, for the interviews with witnesses, for the collection and testing of evidence, or for any of the arguments or conversations in court. Go ahead, pass judgement on the accused AND on their attorney, and tell us that this person or that person doesn’t get to be considered innocent until their trial and that their attorney shouldn’t do their job of defending them because the crime this person is accused of is terrible or whatever.

The justice system in this country is flawed. Innocent people go to prison. Innocent people are killed by us. Guilty people go free or get really light sentences. It happens, but this is what we have. Frankly, I am grateful that we are innocent until proven guilty (especially if we’re not white males who just happen to be “innocent” a lot more often than others tend to be), and I am grateful that I will have defense if I am accused of a crime. I just hope the person who represents me does the best job they can because I know what a shitty job it is defending people. I hope my counsel remembers that I am innocent until the end of the trial and works hard and does everything they can to defend me.

We make lawyer jokes, but let’s be honest here. We need defense attorneys. It’s a shitty job with low pay, and a lot of the time the people they are representing did do the crime. Thankfully, they work for us and the Constitution and not their god or conscience or ego.

For those who seem to have forgotten that everyone gets these rights, not just the “good people,” here’s your reminder. Twice more in the last day I’ve see a stupid lie about Hillary Rodham doing her job as a defense attorney 40 years ago. She defended an accused rapist. She didn’t want to, but it was her job and she sucked it up and did it. The defendant wasn’t freed, but he did accept a plea deal that got him five years in prison. The point of the meme, though, is that in doing her job she did something that we are not supposed to be able to understand or forgive her for. It’s supposed to be some big secret that she is an attorney, but it’s not. We all know it, and now we remember what that means. I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I am a fan of truth. I’m sorry for the victim of the crime, but I am glad that Rodham did her job. It shows me that she does understand the Constitution. It shows me that she can do what is necessary even if it might not feel right. It shows me that she will fight for my rights.

I hope that my president will be an ally in the fight for my rights, for all of our rights, regardless of of our sex or skin color or religion or income or whatever. I hope.

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