The following is a true story. It is a story that has been haunting me for the past 20-plus years. The reason it has been haunting me is because I may have been inadvertantly complicit in convicting a man of a serious drug charge by denying him the benefit of the principle of the presumptive innocence of a defendant in a criminal trial. I make no judgment as to the man’s actual guilt. That will be as it may. The point, rather, is that, in retrospect, I believe that we, the jury in the trial, followed the letter of what seemed in retrospect to be a very bad law and -- pursuant to that law -- presumed the man to be guilty, and that this presumption seemed to be “hard coded” into the relevant drug-possession law.
At the time, we believed we acted in good faith, because we believed o
In October of 2017, I published what I intended as a more detailed examination of all three of the main clauses of the First Amendment: the "establishment" clause, the "free exercise" clause, and the "abridgement" clause (encompassing freedom of speech, the press, and assembly. Life got in the way, however, and only the first part of the column, on the "establishment" clause, ever appeared. Since then, however, and largely as a result of the continuing assault of the Trump Administration and other parts of the American fascist community on First Amendment liberties, I have returned to the subject of the First Amendment, and have written the other two parts -- "free exercise" and "abridgement" -- that I neglected back in October of last year. In the interest of continuity, I am re-publ
This is going to sound really strange coming from me, but … (deep breath) … Donald Trump is right about due process. Granted, "due process" is probably just a phrase Trump overheard on an episode of Law and Order, or maybe from one of his cadre of attorneys. But the source being whatever it may, when you're right, you're right. The US Constitution guarantees due process prior to the deprivation of “life, liberty, or property”. For that reason alone, Trump is right, even if only in a stopped-clock-twice-a-day manner, about the criticality of due process. Furthermore, we should understand a few things up front, one about professional relationships between men and women, another about free speech, and third about the economics of legal defense and the implications for the practical avail