The People’s Court: Kavanaugh and the Presumption of Innocence

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Published October 4, 2018
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The Montclarion
Judge's gavel in a courtroom and a stack of law books. Photo courtesy of wp paarz via Flickr

In a time when being a “cisgender straight white male” is basically the worst sin that one can commit, it is important to remember the foundations that all of western society is built upon. All human beings despite race, sex, gender and sexual affiliation have the same rights “endowed by our creator.” Some of the most crucial rights are the presumption of innocence, the fact that you are innocent until proven guilty, the burden of proof and the fact that you must be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations, it is very important to remember our fundamental rights. The burden of proof lies solely on those that accused him of sexual assault, not on him. Kavanaugh does not need to prove his innocence. Instead, we must first assume that he did not do it and through evidence and fact be convinced otherwise.

Going right along with the presumption of innocence is the burden of proof, which again lies upon the prosecution or those accusing the other of wrongdoing. It is up to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to prove that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault against her over 30 years ago. She needs to prove that he did this using unquestionable evidence.

How could Ford do this if the incident happened all those years ago and surely any physical evidence is long gone? She can prove it through corroborating evidence, which is basically other people that help prove her story to be true, i.e. witnesses. The fact of the matter is, though, that every single witness that Ford brought forth has denied any recollection of any party to the liking Ford described. One of her witnesses, Ford’s best high school friend, in fact stated that she had never even been to any gathering in which Kavanagh was present. She said this in a written testimony at the risk of being arrested if she was lying.

Finally, through the burden of proof, you must prove that the person is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means that if you have any inkling of doubt in your mind you must find the person innocent. You cannot convict someone if you have an ounce of doubt. Therefore, if those making the claims against you cannot provide a scintilla of evidence, then there certainly is some doubt that their claims are true.

You may be thinking to yourself, based on these standards it is very hard to convict anyone of a crime. Exactly, that is the point. That is the beauty of the system. To quote Lord Matthew Hale:

“…but then it must be very warily pressed, for it is better five guilty persons should escape unpunished than one innocent person should die…” said Lord Matthew Hale, the late British judge and lawyer.

Hale said that it is better if five guilty people walk free than for one innocent man be put to death.

I will not fully comment on whether or not I believe Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent. I will not comment on whether or not I believe Kavanaugh should sit on the Supreme Court. That is for you to decide as you are the jury in the court of public opinion.

But let me remind you that Kavanaugh is innocent until he is proven guilty, the burden of proof is on the accuser, meaning Ford must put forward some evidence to prove her story. If you have any doubt in your mind that Kavanaugh may be innocent, then you must find him innocent. This is one of the wonders of our freedom.

 

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