A reminder of the presumption of innocence

Thursday, October 12, 2017

As it routinely does, today, the Recorder, reported on an arrest of a citizen of our community. Each time it does so, the Recorder never reminds the reading public that a criminal charge is nothing more than an allegation and that under our Constitution every citizen is presumed innocent as they face the power of the government.

Each day in the Franklin County Hall of Justice, when a judge empanels a jury to sit on a criminal case, he/she will always remind prospective jurors that the defendant is presumed innocent. Why? Because our Constitution insures that citizens brought before a court are not guilty unless and until the evidence persuades a jury that they are guilty of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. The Recorder never reminds its readers of that basic constitutional fact. Instead, The Recorder publishes the details of an arrest as contained in a one-sided view of the evidence from the perspective of law enforcement. The result is that often times the allegation alone is sufficient to injure the reputation of the individual charged and the presumption of innocence is a mere footnote.

Today a client of mine, Jeanne Grover, had her reputation tarnished based on an allegation that she has denied the Recorder failed to include that detail when it published the details of the allegations against her. Let me remind the Recorder and the reading public, Ms. Grover is presumed innocent and that is what is unique and praise-worthy of our system of criminal justice.

Mark H. Bluver