The core concepts of our freedom, the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt are in jeopardy. Over the course of a 40+ year career talking to juries I had been confident that the women and men that served believed in these core values.
Of course, individual jurors allowed racial, ethnic or religious prejudices to interfere with their duty to honor these concepts. But by and large the vast majority of jurors put their faith in these ideals and honored them.
More recently, these bedrock concepts that keep each of us, not just the accused person free, are being disregarded in favor of many of our “more enlightened jurors” fervor to “believe the accuser,” particularly where the criminal charges involve sex at domestic violence offenses.
There is no question that the #MeToo movement is a long overdue milestone in the development of equality for women. The movement has identified centuries of abuse, inequality and mistreatment of women.
Now, however, when I see men and women that have sworn to uphold our most basic freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, freedoms that separate us from every other form of government, freedoms that protect our liberty and our property, placing concepts like “believe the accuser’ ahead of the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it serves as a reminder of why I have been doing this work for over 42 years.
Attorneys defending these cases in times like this are our last line in the defense of freedom. They are last line of protection for what has been the greatest system of justice ever devised. They are, truly, liberty’s last champions.