American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation




Why are we still lynching people in America?

Posted by Joel Friedlander | 1 Comment

Most people in this country who viewed the Casey Anthony trial seem to have disagreed with the final verdict and would like to kill the woman.  This attitude is a slander on our justice system.
The rights of the accused in our judicial system go back pretty far.  They start in English Law with the Magna Carta, 1215 AD, which states:

“+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way … except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.”

They continue in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” 6th Amendment to the Constitution, applied to the States through the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.  See also Article Three of the Constitution.

And they are present in European systems as well.

Article 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789 in France, provides:

“ As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner’s person shall be severely repressed by law.”

Internationally, in the last century they were extended to all peoples in the World:

“The United Nations placed the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty in its Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 under article eleven, section one. The maxim also found a place in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in 1953 [as article 6, section 2] and was incorporated into the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [as article 14, section.” Ken Pennington,  Innocent Until Proven Guilty, the Origins of a Legal Maxim,  2].http://classes.maxwell.syr.edu/his381/InnocentuntilGuilty.htm

So, how is it that Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury of her peers and is presumed to be guilty?  It is so because the Media has taken over in America as the proponent of guilt or innocence. (In this connection please see  “The Nation: Media Give No Presumption Of Innocence,” by Patricia J. Williams, http://www.npr.org/2011/07/18/138464822/the-nation-media-give-no-presumption-of-innocence)The media have turned the American People into a lynch mob that despises their own judicial system and thousands of years of developed jurisprudence.  Just read the media and the blogs and see what our people want to do to Casey Anthony.  If we are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are found not guilty, do we not continue to be innocent in the eyes of the law, and of the people?  If that isn’t true, what is the point of our system of justice?

Next time you are in Manhattan go over to 80 Centre Street and go into the Jury Room on the first floor of the building.  Go to the Jury Clerk’s Office and look behind their desk.  There are two pictures that the clerk keeps there to help remember why we have juries.  One photograph is from a movie, “Twelve Angry Men.”  That film teaches us what a jury charged with trying a criminal case must really do to discharge its duty, and what the obstacles to that are.  The second picture is from the film, “The Ox-Bow Incident,” about a lynch mob, teaches us what happens when we allow our violent passions to take us over.

I fear that we are heading away from the former film and heading towards the justice system in the second one.  I have begun to think that there are really good reasons to keep cameras out of the courtroom.  We are hanging people without a trial in this country, whether the be Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or Casey Anthony, and that’s a bad idea because it eliminates everything we have learned about justice through all of human history.  As it says in The Rights of Man, “… if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner’s person shall be severely repressed by law.”  What we are allowing our Media to do to the accused, and the exonerated, in America is unduly harsh and must be stopped.

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One Response to “Why are we still lynching people in America?”

  1. Why are we still lynching people in America? | Famous People The World Is Talking About Now
    July 18th, 2011 @

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