Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Judge's View

Judge H. Lee Sarokin weighs in on the New jersey corruption arrests.

Money Quote:

A banner headline in the New York Times reads: 44 Charged by U.S. in New Jersey Corruption Sweep. The assistant United States Attorney in announcing the charges simultaneously rendered a guilty verdict by concluding: "For these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone." He went on to state that average citizens "don't have a chance against the culture of influence peddling the investigation unearthed." Hey, isn't this why we have juries? Has the presumption of innocence become a quaint old relic?

Those charged may well be guilty of serious crimes, but the time for summations is at trial not at a charging press conference. Unless prosecutors wish to allay fears by announcing the arrest of persons such as serial murderers or rapists, no legitimate purpose is served by a press conference outlining the evidence against the accused and pronouncing their guilt.

The idea that the justice system considers you innocent until proven guilty is pretty much a laugh at this point. They can assume near-total control over your life, including incarcerating you for long periods of time for non-violent offenses, without ever getting a verdict. And you won't even get an apology.

In reality, the state assumes that you are guilty, and acts accordingly.

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