“Innocent until proven guilty” found its way into our laws in 1895. In Coffin vs. U.S., the Supreme Court ruled that the right to a fair trial was violated because the judge failed to include in his instructions that there is a presumption of innocence. In 1948, it was codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the U.S. voted for.
Fairness is included as an element of justice in law books. It includes ensuring that a person’s legal and natural rights are not violated in a proceeding. We all probably have some idea of what fairness means.
Although the Kavanaugh issue is a political case and not a legal case, should not the fundamental concepts of “innocent until proven guilty” and “fairness” apply? Do we really want criminal, political or civil procedures to exclude those two concepts?
This column is about whether the proceedings align with or contradict both of those long-established concepts.
No one is saying that Kavanaugh’s accusers are lying. Kavanaugh acknowledges that something may have happened, but he was not the perpetrator of the despicable acts alleged.
Even though some will deny it, there can be no question that the proceedings are bounded by the elections on Nov. 6 and which party will control the House and Senate.
Immediately after Dr. Ford’s allegations were made public, many Democrat House and Senate members were on TV stating that they believed Ford. At that point there was nothing to corroborate her claims. From the beginning the Democrat position was that Kavanaugh is guilty because Ford said so. So much for innocent until proven guilty and fairness.
A female senator from Hawaii turned the concept of innocent until proven guilty on its head by declaring that all men are presumed guilty. The criteria is a man’s ideological bent and sex, according to this Democrat. Evidence is not a factor.
Judicial rules require that evidence be turned over to the prosecutor. Is it fair to Kavanaugh that Sen. Feinstein refused to turn over Ford’s original complaint presented on July 30? Feinstein held the letter until Sept. 23.
Feinstein met with Kavanugh on Aug. 29, 29 days after she received Ford’s letter. Senate hearings on Kavanaugh began on Sept. 4. At that point Feinstein had the Ford letter for 35 days. On neither occasion did she mention Ford’s allegation.
Democrats have been demanding an FBI investigation of Ford’s allegations. Even though Feinstein has access to Senate investigators, apparently she did not use them. Instead, she waited until Sept. 12, after the hearings, to provide the letter to the FBI. Why did she wait so long? Could it be that the longer Democrats can postpone the vote on Kavanaugh, the closer it gets to the election?
Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer then called for a postponement of the vote scheduled for Sept.13. He got it. The committee vote is now scheduled for Sept. 28.
Democrats had since July 30 to investigate Ford’s allegations but chose not to. The only logical reasons are to try to find other alleged victims and to push the hearings off until after the election.
Two other witnesses suddenly appeared on Sept. 23 and Sept. 26. To date, investigators have found no corroboration of Ford’s or Ramirez’s stories. The third claimed to have been gang-raped at one of 10 or so parties Kavanuagh attended, but does not claim that he participated.
I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of Kavanaugh, who has denied all of the allegations, as you consider the implications of the current proceedings.
Ask yourself whether you remember if you were in a meeting or attended a party 36 years ago – 1982. How do you defend yourself when your accuser does not remember the date or location of the event?
How would you like to appear before a jury that has decided that you are guilty because of your gender although there is not one shred of corroborating evidence?
This non-legal trial goes to the very heart of our judicial system by trampling on the fundamental concepts of fairness and innocent until proven guilty.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.