(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The Presumption of Innocence, and other Quaint Ideals
Presumption of Innocence
(Innocent until proven guilty)
A principle that requires the government to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant and relieves the defendant of any burden to prove his or her innocence.
The presumption of innocence, an ancient tenet of Criminal Law, is actually a misnomer. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the presumption of the innocence of a criminal defendant is best described as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence
the presumption of innocence is essential to the criminal process. The mere mention of the phrase presumed innocent keeps judges and juries focused on the ultimate issue at hand in a criminal case: whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged acts. The people of the United States have rejected the alternative to a presumption of innocence-a presumption of guilt-as being inquisitorial and contrary to the principles of a free society.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all persons accused of criminal wrongdoing the right to a speedy trial. Although this right is derived from the federal Constitution, it has been made applicable to state criminal proceedings through the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the due process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The right to a speedy trial is an ancient liberty. During the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) […] In 1215 the Magna Charta prohibited the king from delaying justice to any person in the realm. Several of the charters of the American colonies protected the right to a speedy trial, as did most of the constitutions of the original 13 states.
A writ of habeas corpus directs a person, usually a prison warden, to produce the prisoner and justify the prisoner’s detention. If the prisoner argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right, the court may order the prisoner’s release.
The habeas corpus concept was first expressed in the Magna Charta, a constitutional document forced on King John by English landowners at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.
Due Process of Law
The constitutional guarantee of due process of law, found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
The concept of due process originated in English Common Law. The rule that individuals shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without notice and an opportunity to defend themselves predates written constitutions and was widely accepted in England.
And now History continues to unwind … and the Constitution continues to be stretched …
from Full transcript: Barack Obama’s speech – 5/21/2009
– Politico Staff
Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture — like other prisoners of war — must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.
In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.
[in conclusion …]
The Framers who drafted the Constitution could not have foreseen the challenges that have unfolded over the last 222 years. But our Constitution has endured through secession and civil rights, through World War and Cold War, because it provides a foundation of principles that can be applied pragmatically; it provides a compass that can help us find our way. It hasn’t always been easy. We are an imperfect people. Every now and then, there are those who think that America’s safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. And we hear such voices today. But over the long haul the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we’ve made our share of mistakes, required some course corrections, ultimately we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength and a beacon to the world.
Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. […] the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are, if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals.
For a few minutes there I thought
this must be Friday Night!?! (ie the weekly “News Dump”)
We no longer have the euphemism “Enemy Combatants” —
We now have “POWs” who must be held in “prolonged detention”,
for things they MIGHT someday do —
all under the guise of the Constitution.
What would Orwell think?
What will the world think?
This is living without fear?
This news certainly left Rachel Maddow stunned.
Rachel Maddow: Indefinite detention?
So what else is new?
W. screwed up royally!
America is continuing that down that same path!
We should be cleaning up the Constitutional Mess —
NOT just simply re-arranging it!
I’m starting to get that queasy W feeling again.
This is living without fear?
So… okay, they’re POWs. If that’s the case then we have a couple hundred years of our own precedents to call upon for how we confine and treat them (and a few remarkable cases of how not to treat them).
If they’re POWs, then they clearly fall within the Geneva Conventions. And as such, they’ve been mistreated and we are honor/treaty bound to hang the criminals that mistreated them (there’s precedent).
If they’re POWs then we are at war and Congress must declare that to be. If we’re at war then let’s get on with it and finish the fucking job. Historically in times of war, our best and brightest are conscripted to die.
If they’re POWs then there’s little to discuss, little to plan and no reason to “develop an appropriate legal regime” – it already exists.
If Obama’s such a bright guy then he sees such simple logical constructs and his (so far) refusal to even acknowledge them leaves me a lot more than queasy.