COMMENTARY: Guilt before innocence: The assassination of Lady Justice


There is a wind of change in philosophy and democracy that has suddenly become a raging inferno that, if left unchecked, will annihilate the very fabric and foundation of America’s justice system.

Lady Justice has endured attempts to subvert and change her in times past but never has it been so explicit such as we see today. I refer of course, to this wave of demands that America must now replace our presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt. Even our elected officials are openly and bluntly demanding the accused prove their innocence. And not only do they demand such a change but those demands are made with hatred and, in some cases, candid support for violence.

This change to guilty unless proven innocent is not new but has been around since America was first established. History has shown through events such as the witch trials of Salem and others that America has, on occasion, found that scheme as expedient to mass or social cravings and fear of the unknown. However, in the past two or three years we have watched this belief become more and more prevalent in our thinking which has resulted in more and more support from those who are charged with protecting and defending our very way of life.

With the exception of two famous personalities, most other well-known accused persons have all been punished without due process, without trial and all based on the presumption of guilt. Support for this has been open and swift in that individuals have been quickly and, in some cases with great fanfare, dismissed from employment, even though they, in most cases, protested their innocence. And in the past two or three weeks this change, in direct conflict with the cornerstone of America’s justice system, has reared its ugly head to levels heretofore never heard of or seen.

Lady Justice hangs her head in sorrow as if she knows what is coming, slowly cries and drapes herself in mourning black as hatred, violence, tyranny and evil casually dance into the open sunshine.

If this trend is allowed to go unchecked then she will certainly crumble and it will be not impossible but a highly difficult endeavor to restore her to her rightful place in America’s justice system.

Is it asking too much to urge all legal Americans to insist that everyone be protected under the presumption of innocence? I also realize the primary reason in supporting this presumption of guilt by our elected officials is simply political and that in itself should be most strongly rejected by each of us. If you’re not sure where you stand on this issue, let me give you a hypothetical situation for your consideration:

Remember, once accused the burden of proof falls on you to prove your innocence.

Let us go back, say 40 years ago to when you were in high school. You go to an event at school then all these years later a fellow student says you did something to them at that event but can’t remember exactly the date, if anyone else was involved and not even sure (but thinks it was you), didn’t say anything to anyone at the time, didn’t tell the parents and didn’t go to the doctor or file a complaint with the police. Now you must prove your innocence!

And even though everyone else at that event says they knew nothing about the alleged incident and that they never saw you leave the area or even talking with that person, you are still guilty as accused! And just because you are accused, your employer fires you, you cannot make your mortgage payment so you lose your home, and your car(s) plus, because of the public disgrace, your family leaves you but you have not been found guilty nor had a trial by your peers but you have certainly been tried and found guilty socially and on top of that the burden of proof still rests on you to prove you are innocent: even if you later prove you are innocent, it is too late because the damage has been done.

I find this situation so ludicrous and downright hypocritical how one group can be so adamant that presumption of guilt must be followed when it involves a member of an opposition group but when it involves one of their members (yes, more than one) they insist on presumption of innocence and total silence. I refer of course to one member with numerous accusations to include rape, another who is recognized as one of the top people in that group who is also running for a state-level high office but has been accused with documentation to include a video and a third member who is walking the halls of the United States Congress today with accusations of misconduct in his folder. And if time is an important issue then the one with multiple accusations has some that go back many, many years. And in all three instances, the accusers are women but no one, to include the media or even so called women’s rights organizations, will even mention or demand these three individuals be held accountable! So how is that for hypocrisy?

If this presumption of guilt continues and becomes the rule-of-law (even if not in writing but only by acceptance) then everyone will be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, fearing someone, someday may accuse them of something they will have to prove they did not do. Is that the way you want to live? If not, please talk with your elected representatives in Washington DC and let them know you strongly support “innocent until proven guilty.”

We cannot condone nor must we accept “the end justifies the means” nor “whatever it takes to win.” If “win at all cost” is the cry then we must insist on knowing the “cost.” Unless something is done quickly we may find Lady Justice in some trash dumpster labeled “Justice, Democracy, Freedom and the US Constitution.”

Joe Schell


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