Murder in Alabama: The Sacred Right of Due Process at Death’s Door?

I have been alarmed at how ready many citizens have been to so quickly convict Roy Moore of the grievously serious crime of child molestation with scarcely a passing thought of any of the factors which would go into such a momentous decision –the right of confrontation of the witnesses, the right of cross-examination to test the veracity of their accounts, but, first and foremost, one of the most cherished of all our rights guaranteed to an American citizen, the presumption that one is innocent until proven guilty.

One story is illustrative of how far this has gone, and not only in the reliably-loony never-Trump far left mainstream media. In listening to one of my favorite podcasts recently, I heard a person I know to be a most intellectually gifted commentator of the center-right declare, with great certitude, that Judge Moore was a child molester, was also probably at least guilty of attempted rape, and that he had been banned from the mall in Gadsden, Alabama. The account of the first two offenses have been cast in great doubt by subsequent reporting and the manager of the mall during the relevant time period has told reporters that Judge Moore was never, to his knowledge, banned from the mall.

As one who spent many decades as an actual, working, practicing Trial Lawyer, a claim I still make with pride (admittedly, one among  a steadily decreasing number, sad to say) in order to assure that I distinguish myself from those of the TV-Billboard variety, it concerns me that we are truly witnessing, as the title of an excellent piece in The Federalist styles it, A Society Murdering Due Process, 

“The real story today is that emotional feeding frenzies in public discourse put us on a path that leads—unless something dramatic changes—to the end of due process. Due process and the rule of law are concepts fast becoming meaningless to Americans hypnotized by media.”

“As the mainstream media has told it for decades: there should be a presumption of guilt based on any accusation of sexual misconduct, whether a Moore character running for Senate or a hapless college kid  accused of rape or anybody else. Oh, and the media has the prerogative of controlling the narrative, picking and choosing who’s guilty.”

The author, Stella Morabito, then briefly reviews the sordid outbreak of lechery–and rank hypocrisy as a result of same– on the part of a number of far-left “notables”, with Al Franken leading the list most recently, and the truly pathetic calls for “justice” for Bill Clinton by such luminaries as Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand, who was campaigning with one and the same alleged rapist mere months ago.

That is followed by an excellent brief summary of the root causes of the collapse of our respect for Due Process, and, I would argue, also the Rule of Law:

“Whatever today’s circus means, it should serve as an object lesson that due process first dies in the public square. It’s only going to get worse unless people learn to focus more on the causes of our lethal disease (e.g., political correctness, agitprop, power-mongering, the practice of ritual defamation, etc.) than on the symptoms of certain media- and politico-selected diseased people.”

“If we could wrest our brains away from the sewer of social media, perhaps we could see that we’re living in the Twilight Zone. Trying to discern what is real from what is fake is a tall order in today’s media world, unless you’ve worked hard to cultivate a sense of discernment. Navigating the “news” is like taking a walk through a labyrinthine hall of smoke and mirrors.”

“This is why I think Moore’s case, as with all Gloria Allred-sponsored side shows and their unpredicted spawn, is really about the future of due process. Will it live or die? Will we be able to revive the true meaning of due process, i.e., the basic principle that people should be judged fairly on the basis of evidence? Or will we succumb to raw emotion and all of the thoughtless lynching that goes with it? Will the term “due process” simply end up as a garbage term that means whatever anybody wants it to mean?”

Then, she presents what may be the best short analysis I have seen of the gargantuan hypocrisy reflected in the double standard at play in the Al Franken-Roy Moore circus:

“A huge swath of Hollywood and the media have been dictating to us for decades that due process should not apply to hicks and unsophisticated moralists, as they’ve labelled Moore. If it applies at all, then it only applies to upstanding and enlightened citizens like Sen. Al Franken. Now we learn that Franken sexually harassed women, including newcaster Leeann Tweeden. He admits to the photographic evidence of doing so. But longtime media rules say he’s entitled to “due process,” or at least a sense of lenience and forgiveness.”

 “That’s certainly not the case for the likes of Moore, although he denies the allegations. Worse, he has preached that there are moral standards of right and wrong, which means he stands accused of both moral turpitude and hypocrisy, of violating his own moral code. Hollywood and the media seem to have declared this combination not only unforgiveable, but proof positive that moral standards don’t even exist. Or at least they do not exist for those who enjoy the media’s protection.”
I would be remiss if I did not note at this point that my concerns about the loss of our respect for Due Process is buttressed by a most unlikely source– Nancy Pelosi! In a piece carrying a title which definitely brought a smile to my face, “Why Nancy Pelosi Gave a Big Boost to Roy Moore”, John Podhoretz noted her remarks on Meet the Press just a few days ago, discussing why that great “icon” John Conyers should not be forced to resign but should be accorded– you guessed it!–Due Process:
“She praised Conyers for being an “icon” — which, I’ll grant you, is one way of describing an 89-year-old man who has served for a ridiculous 52 years in the House of Representatives, a record that suggests he is less a captain of the ship of state than he is a barnacle permanently attached to its hull.”

“She said we’re strengthened by “due process” in this country. You cannot judge “just because someone is accused.” This wasn’t a problem for her in many other cases in which sexual misconduct was alleged — just so long as it was being alleged about people she didn’t like.”

And, of course, no treatment of the wretched two-faced treatment of favored stars of the “D” variety would be complete without noting the towering bravery and heroic conduct of that deeply revered “Lion of the Senate”:

“Sen. Ted Kennedy, for example, left MaryJo Kopechne to drown while he first called his lawyer then took a nap after extricating himself from the car he drove off a bridge, with her in it, at Chappaquiddick. He went on to win numerous re-elections, honored by his colleagues as the “Lion of the Senate.” Today’s censures by the Left of Kennedy’s behavior and Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct are nothing but stopgap measures. Only a free people who understand and appreciate the meaning of freedom can call out such cynical posturing.”

Charles Hurt, an excellent analyst at the Washington Times, reflected recently on the distrust of our Alabamian friends, especially with spokespersons of the elites like Peggy Noonan and almost every writer at the New York Times and Washington Post telling them how they should vote, used an old lawyer joke–strange as it may seem, I love lawyer jokes!–to illustrate why all of their holier-than-thou preaching may backfire on them:

“This is the same media that exudes such deep and open contempt for Christians and Christianity, with which Judge Moore has cloaked himself his entire political life. So is it really such a stretch to imagine these jackals manufacturing a fake scandal in order to destroy a Christian on the verge of power — especially one who is such an unreconstructed Washington outsider?”

“Perhaps the moment that did the most to feed the deep suspicions of Alabama voters was when another accuser came forward to tearfully tell of a similar encounter with Judge Moore decades ago. As if scripted by Harvey Weinstein, the woman held a press conference with famed legal feminist Gloria Allred.”

“And you know what they say?”

“How do you know when a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving.”

“How do you know when a woman is lying? She is seated beside Gloria Allred and her lips are moving.”

Loath as I may be to offer even the tiniest advice to a writer as accomplished as Mr. Hurt, the only thing I would have added to the above would be to note that in my opinion, Gloria Allred is a lawyer joke!

Ms. Morabito’s concluding thoughts should give us all pause as we continue in our “lynch mob” mentality for those of whom we disapprove and preach Due Process for those “on our side”:

“There can be no room for even the pretense of due process if we allow our social discourse to cherry-pick morality. If we are going to automatically adopt a lynch mob mentality whenever someone is accused of a crime, then we are paving a path into darkness where anyone and everyone can be presumed guilty and lynched.”

“Granted, in the public square, we aren’t bound to presume innocence in expressing our opinions about who’s guilty in any given scandal. But once our public discourse habitually trashes the concepts of presumption of innocence or due process, then we open the door for kangaroo courts and show trials. And due process enters its death throes.”

My own closing thoughts might differ just a bit from this fine essay, as I strongly feel it is the fact that we feel we aren’t bound to presume innocence about who is guilty in any given scandal which is fueling  much of this feeding frenzy and that if we don’t get back to bedrock principles on which this, the Greatest Nation in History, was founded, including, most importantly such rights as the Presumption of Innocence and Due Process of Law, we will continue in this precipitous slide into our decline, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

 

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