25 October 2008

Innocent until proven Guilty - A Citizen's Right to Judgement

By Our Guest Author Textusa



The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” tends to be misread. And most of the times, purposely.

What is guilt? It’s the fact that one has done the deed. That solely makes one guilty of doing something. Simple as that. You did it, you’re guilty. Or for the more of a romantic nature, you bear the guilt.

The courts exist to determine, in the name of civilized society, the accountability of the guilt. And once confirmed the guilt of the one standing judgement they apply the law using a simple mathematical table with two entries: “deed” and corresponding “sentence”.

The confirmation is done by way of proof, thus the expression “to be proven guilty”. It’s considered confirmed/proved once there is no REASONABLE doubt as to who practiced the action that resulted in crime.

It’s very subjective to quantify how much or how little is “reasonable”. Depending on whose shoulder lays the decision, and many are condemned but would be freed had there been another set of ears hearing the exact same facts. The system should guarantee that this never happens. And if it does, that it’s always the exception, and never the rule.

Summarizing, the courts punish the guilt that exists as of the moment of the crime. One does not walk innocent into a courtroom, and walks out guilty. One walks in guilty, and comes out punished, or sentenced. Justice is thus served. If one walks in innocent, then it should be guaranteed that the exit is done in the same manner.

As it is set up, all is noble. No question to that. However, we all know it has flaws. The main one being that it has become a science with algorithms that have nothing to do with the accountability for the crime committed. These mechanisms exist, correctly so, as a set of means that protect, as much as possible, each and every citizen against possible miscarriage of justice. No one is to walk in innocent and come out condemned. This principle is taken so seriously that it’s preferable to release a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.

But, in this science, as in all, there are good, very good, brilliant, awesome and exceptional scientists. The price each one charges for the services rendered is in accordance with each one’s capabilities. These, in practical terms, are quantified by the amount of positive results obtained. A positive result is basically the non application, to the maximum extent possible, of what is determined by law for the act upon the client. In the abovementioned mathematical table, it’s just to fiddle with the “deed” so that the corresponding “sentence” is minimal. The existence, or not, of guilt, is basically only relevant in the definition of the tactics to be used.

If the guilt is not explicit, the common tactic is to convince the court of its inexistence, thus valuing the “deed” to a no-sentence. If it is, then all knowledge will be applied to justify the criminal behaviour thus mitigating whatever is to be determined by the court.

This means, as one can easily see, the verdict of “not-guilty” does not prove innocence. It may be based on it, but what it truthfully says is that “the findings of this court are that it cannot punish”. And these can be based on the true innocence of the defendant, but it may also be because the “scientist” did his job well albeit the guilt. And what I have just said is easily proven by the way it’s not uncommon for the appeals to overrule initial court decisions. Graver, it’s not uncommon to hear a no-guilty verdict for someone who we know is as guilty as the night is dark no matter how many lamps are lit. Do I need to refer examples? Don’t think so. You’re probably thinking of someone that I haven’t even thought about, and that substantiates significantly what I just said.

The courts are the only rightful places to conduct these procedures. But, they err. I accept that. However, I, as a citizen, am entitled to make judgements in accordance with my conscience and knowledge of facts. What I am not entitled to is to have the necessary means to hold accountable those that I think are guilty. I should never be allowed to deprive someone of their freedom, or much less throw a rope around their necks and head for the nearest tree. That’s a responsibility of society, and although I belong to it, I do not, obviously, represent it.

All above said, I don’t care how, when, where or if the McCanns and friends are ever brought to justice and found guilty in a court of law. Because, they may one day go to court, and come out free as birds. For me, they are guilty. Although I did not come to this decision lighthearted, yes, I may be wrong. And if I find that I am, I’ll have no problem in reversing it. It brings me no pleasure in pinning the death of a child on her parents and friends. Sadness is what I find. Just another stone placed in the building of human mistrust.

Also, for the same reasons, it’s irrelevant for me that Mr. Gonçalo Amaral is found guilty or not-guilty by the courts in the Cipriano case. For me, he not only is not-guilty, as he is innocent. Like with the McCanns, I’m willing to change my mind. However, in both cases, the more I’m informed, the more I believe my beliefs are correct.

Also I believe that I’m not alone in my beliefs. I think that the majority think like me. I think the judicial systems of both countries should be aware of that before putting up these circus acts that we’re currently being forced to witness.

Although we have the numbers, we don’t have the resources. A powerful few control those. But history has shown that the powerful can be proven meek.

3 comments:

  1. Textusa, you point out the unreliability of courts of justice. You are right, they are human institutions and, as such, vulnerable. The political pressure on the McCann case is a clear example of how flawed institutions can be, those same institutions that are supposed to ensure sound social values like democracy, fredom of speech, justice. Whom can we then turn to, God? God is said to work in misterious ways. Perhaps it is so in the Madeleine McCann case and justice will prevail with or without the judicial system.

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  2. Excellent post, obrigado Textusa. I agree wholeheartedly and share your beliefs, particularly those expressed in the last two paragraphs.

    Many people from all around the world, and from all walks of life, agree where the guilt and innocence lies in this case and and are deeply sad for the little girl who never lived to be four.

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  3. I am the Anonymous above. Sorry about the typos, 'fredom' is meant to be 'freedom' and 'misterious' meant to be 'mysterious'.

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