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We should never trust accusers with a blind eye because their accusations are against our political adversaries, just as we should never turn a blind eye to accusers because their accusations are against our political allies. At the end of the day, justice must be blind. We must always search for truth both inside and outside of our courts. Nobody deserves or would ever want to be treated the way Kavanaugh was treated last fall.

With the latest sexual assault allegations now leveled against Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, I hope people will step back and afford him the proper benefit of the doubt that Kavanaugh was not given. Innocent until proven political could be the new standard, but it does not have to be. Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and commentator who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was an inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio.

She is on Twitter MadisonGesiotto. View the discussion thread. Skip to main content. Does innocent until proven guilty mean anything in public opinion? Don't miss a brief. The 'innocent until proven guilty' rule is sometimes regarded as a requirement of natural justice.

If I knew what natural justice was, I would examine this claim. Since I don't, I won't.

It is widely assumed that the presumption of innocence rule embodies the moral principle that it is better for the guilty to go free than the innocent be convicted. If I am accused of a crime, say a mugging, and I am innocent, I may not be able to produce evidence to prove my innocence. Say I was alone indoors at the time of the crime.

The crime occurred perhaps three months ago. A witness has described someone who looks like me as the mugger.

presumption of innocence

How can I prove that I was not the mugger? Since I can be so easily disadvantaged in proving my innocence, it seems only reasonable, given the potentially serious costs and consequences of conviction to me, that the accuser should be required to prove my guilt. In many circumstances I cannot prove my innocence when I am innocent; the least that can be required of my accuser is that they produce evidence that their accusation is sound and correct.

TL;DR The phrase "innocent, until proven guilty," is a false dichotomy, as the court never tries to prove a person's innocence, only that the defendant is "not guilty.

Your Answer

Another slant to take on this phrase "innocent until proven guilty" is that it is colloquial in style. A more accurate rendering would be "not guilty until proven guilty" but this isn't as catchy.

Sexual assault cases: Guilty until proven innocent?

A court and in a greater fashion any falsifiable proposition may not be able to proven innocent or false , only that the person is "not guilty. On the flip side, a common methodology employed by jurors is the idea of "beyond reasonable doubt" regarding a person's guilt. Any shadow of doubt means the juror should acquit the defendant as "not guilty," which is not to say that the person is indeed "innocent," if you catch my drift. Courts only address the concept of guilt and never make a proclamation of innocence.

This is also why the prosecution must do all the proving--they have to prove the guilt. The defendant has no such duty to prove innocence. In light of philosophy, I'm in agreement with another answer that the concept of the null hypothesis seems a better study. The legal precedent of innocence and guilt rarely finds its way into science or philosophy IMO.

Either the defendant is innocent or guilty; there is no Schroedinger cat here. That we know, or that we do not know, which is the truth, is a different problem, that does not create a third, intermediate, category between guilt and innocence. So a decision has to be made: either the defendant must be acquitted, or the defendant must be convicted. And that within a reasonable lapse of time, for an unterminable process amounts to making the defendant suffering a penalty while not being convicted.

I would caution against the tendency of dealing with juridical problems as if they were philosophical issues. Law is not philosophy, and what may seem to be the best and most sound reasoning, philosophically speaking, may not point to the best course of action, juridically speaking. Juridically, it is best to try to understand the consequences of law upon the way society is organised. You can easily imagine what the consequences would be of creating a third category, "neither guilty nor innocent", for the liberties and rights of common citizens: the possibility of holding people in jail while the prosecution endlessly tries new and newer hypotheses about a crime; the possibility of life long stigma upon those who cannot demonstrate perfect innocence potentially amounting to "cruel and unusual" punishment without even due process ; and, also potentially, actual criminals going unpunished because the prosecution gets stuck to lawfaring an innocent.

The more proper phrasing would be:. Not considered guilty, until it is proven they have committed criminal acts, whereupon they are considered guilty. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Now make a quick leap to the prison inmate.


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  4. Because the default condition is "free and equal"!

They are not free and equal in rights, they are incarcerated. They are not equal in dignity, we have labeled them "criminal", with the humiliation and shame that follows. We are not acting upon them in kinship, instead we have — for the time being — removed them from the community and stated they may not be a part of it. How did we get there? How did we justify ripping a person's rights and freedom away from them? As stated above we have collectively decided that we all start out as free and equal to everyone else in rights and dignity.

So what makes us able to violate that? We have decided that in that particular case, it is justified to deviate from the original statement. But now enters uncertainty, the problem of knowing. There is a possible mismatch here between knowing what a person has done, and what they have actually done. There is uncertainty between how we regard a person, and what that person has actually done. In the case of uncertainty, which do we find more important? To sentence the those that have committed crimes, or to avoid sentencing the innocent? We have decided that the innocent must never suffer having their freedoms, dignity, and rights taken away from them.

This is of much higher priority than sentencing the guilty. Why have we done that? Because we can easily imagine the outrage and anger of having your freedoms ripped away from us without proper cause, we think this is unjust. We can also empathise with others that may suffer such injustices, and as such we have decided that in case of uncertainty it is more important to keep the innocent away from sentencing that it is to sentence the guilty.

Now let us return to the four points above.

In points 1 and 4, the situation is clear. There is a match between what we know and what the person has done. In point 1, the person is not sentenced. In point 4, the person is sentenced. But what about points 2 and 3? When information is lacking, we — as outside observers — cannot tell for sure if the person committed a crime or not. If we were to sentence someone at that point, we run the risk of sentencing an innocent. This — as stated above — is unacceptable; no innocents shall ever be sentenced. So how do we transition from a state of uncertainty, to the kind of certainty that allows us to say "This person has committed a crime, and we know this"?

We do this by proving that they have committed the offending acts. In other words: we prove their guilt. Until we have done that — until we have proven that they did it and thus rightfully allowing us to consider them guilty — we consider them as if they are "not guilty". So in the case of points 2 and 3 above, we say that in order to avoid the risk of labelling people that are not guilty as guilty, we state that anyone that is not proven guilty shall not be considered guilty even if they actually are guilty.

So what about "innocent"? Well we are not really interested in that except to say that proof of innocence is also proof of no guilt. Proven innocence ends the case immediately. But this only covers point 1 of the four points above. We also need to cover points 2 and 3. The only thing that distinguishes points 1, 2 and 3, from point 4, is the knowledge — i. The government can extract virtually unlimited money from the population in taxes.

The government has an enormous armed force called the police that it can use to hunt down and persecute people, as well as search a person's possessions without his consent. The government has a vast army of officials who can spend all day every day looking for ways to prosecute anyone they happen to want to target for any reason. The defense has some lawyers who can't use force except in self defense. Nor can they take stuff without a person's consent.

Innocent until proven guilty legal definition of Innocent until proven guilty

The accused person will often be locked up until his trial so he can't participate much in his own defense. So the deck is stacked against the defense, and in recognition of that fact, the prosecution is supposed to give itself a handicap - the presumption of innocence. It is not appropriate to interpret the legal doctrine of presumption of innocence "innocent until proven guilty" as an epistemological principle for optimal reasoning about reality under uncertainty.

For that we have probability and statistical theory. Rather, it is a procedure adopted as a response to the lessons of history, that is regarded as avoiding undesirable consequences under certain circumstances which hold in a legal context:. The context of this principle occurs within judicial proceedings, where the court has to come to a decision of whether to punish someone by force or not. There has to be something in between getting off completely unscathed and being convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison.

Most people with common sense choose to believe the women. They have looked at the evidence; they have weighed the credibility of each side; and they have come to the conclusion that Roy Moore is guilty as hell, though no court will ever convict him. In fact, this statement from Mitch McConnell today is dizzying. The evidence against Roy Moore is so compelling that even Mitch McConnell uttered a statement I never thought anyone would ever hear from him:. Here is the video of SenateMajLdr saying he believes the women accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually assaulting a year old and pursuing other teens.

Again, Mr. Piven: You are not being tried in a criminal court at least not yet.

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Due process is not required. But there has been plenty of evidence in the form of your denial and in the form of accounts of sexual harassment by several different women that have been verified by others and which have been published in respectable media outlets. Or do we believe the multiple, multiple women who gain absolutely nothing by making those accusations? In the Court of Public Opinion, looking like a douche is totally valid evidence.