Justice - that’s a magic word in the United States that is used freely and frequently. Do we really know what it means? To the ordinary citizen, justice probably means something like "the guilty get put in prison." But, let’s all - especially the news media - not forget one thing. The evidence used in a trial against an accused person must rise to the highest level of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt.
That is not "beyond a shadow of a doubt" as you may hear so often on television crime shows, or "probably committed" the crime. There are several levels or standards of proof for evidence in various types of cases. For instance, if a State agency is attempting to terminate a citizen’s parental rights - meaning that individual would no longer be considered, for any purposes, as the biological parent of his/her child, the standard of proof that must be met by the petitioner, the State agency, is "clear and convincing" evidence. That is still below the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Our forefathers set up this system of criminal justice for a specific reason. Remember - they were recently in America from England, where their homes were invaded, property taken, without probable cause. It just happened - and it happened to innocent people as well as guilty people. Our forefathers - like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams - believed they could devise a system of government that would assure these new Americans that these violations would not happen in this new independent nation. We are the recipients of this wonderful criminal justice system that says a person is innocent until proven guilty - and the evidence to prove guilt must rise to the highest standard of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, when we are reading these news articles about this horrendous crime, let’s all not forget that we must give Cpl. Laurean the benefit of the doubt as to his guilt until the evidence presents itself - but it cannot be - should not be - evidence that allows for any "reasonable doubt" as to his guilt.
There are news reports about certain people being convicted, spending years in prison, and later exonerated by some piece of evidence, whether it be DNA or some other physical evidence. We know these miscarriages of justice happen, and one way to avoid a wrongful conviction is to be careful in how we look at the evidence and how we present the evidence.
I, for one, will consider Cpl. Lauren innocent until all the evidence has been presented to a jury of twelve people. That’s his right - and more importantly - it is YOUR right. Let’s cherish it. It is not a good system unless we make it so.Tweet