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What Price Innocence for Ex-IMF Dominque Strauss-Kahn?

The focus and visibility brought to bear on the criminal justice system with the charging of Dominque Strauss- Kahn highlights two recurring, but troubling, issues that seem to be part and partial of our justice system. The first is the ubiquitous perpetrator walk or “perp walk.”

Regardless of your opinion of his guilt or innocence, how can we, as a nation that has enshrined the presumption of innocence in the federal and state constitutions,  reconcile the media feeding frenzy tainting a suspect’s right to a fair trial with that same suspect’s right to be presumed innocent? Even Mother Theresa would look guilty during a perp walk.

Why do we simply give lip service to this precious constitutional right? If Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty, then the evidence will seal his fate. Rape, in any form and of anyone is, by definition, indefensible. 

However, the jury’s  determination of whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty should be based on legally admissible evidence in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion. And the question for the jury is guilty or not guilty; it is never guilty or innocent as the jury never passes on the issue of innocence. A defendant is presumed to be innocent!

The dissemination of information to the media by the law enforcement community, including press releases by the prosecution, invariably is done so with the objective being to reach and, ultimately, taint the jury pool. We should not passively accept a defendant’s broadside attack on the character of the complainant anymore than such an attack on the defendant’s right to a fair trial with a fair jury.

And this leads to the second recurring issue. That is, the undermining and eroding of the presumption of innocence. The recent press releases state that the investigation is uncovering more damaging evidence. Why is this so important for public consumption? You can see this on full display in the Casey Anthony trial in Florida.

As to the Casey Anthony trial, I am not concerned with her guilt or innocence for purposes of this discussion. I am only concerned with each citizen’s right to a fair trial before a fair and impartial jury.

I guess most people will recognize the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial when it hits close to home:  one of their own is charged with a crime. That is not the threshold test for a defendant being tried fairly in the United States, nor should it be.

109 thoughts on “What Price Innocence for Ex-IMF Dominque Strauss-Kahn?

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