What happened to the Presumption of Innocense?

Stephen Hamilton, an attorney that specializes in Defending people accused of DWIs in Lubbock Texas, wrote a blog on the Scarlet S.  He linked to an article in Arizona that talked about posting people who have been accused of DUIs on a billboard. Just like Stephen, I see serious problems branding people with the "Scarlet DUI". 

  • First, if in fact the posting goes up before there is a conviction, the jury pool is tainted and you are now presumed guilty.
  • Second, If you have prior DUI’s, and you have changed your life, you will be presumed guilty regardless if you are driving impaired or not.
  • Third, is this an effort to protect society, or is in effort to outcast people who have made mistakes?  Isn’t this just public humiliation and harassment rather than protection?

Where does this stop?  Do we post all of our sins and misdeeds for everyone to see.  There are already websites up where a potential jury can search a persons name and get their whole criminal history.  Impartiality goes out the window and the person is convicted for past crimes for which the person has already been punished, and the person may very well be innocent for this crime.  Reminds me of an old movie called "The Star Chamber" where the judges hire hit men to kill people who were let go because of "technicalities."  The character Michael Douglas plays discovers that the people he was going to have killed were in fact innocent.  We have a system in place that begins with the presumption of innocence.  It means nothing to those who do not need it.  It is the difference between life and death, between incarceration and freedom, and between guilty and innocence.   Remember,  it is better that  10 guilty go free, than to let one innocent person be convicted. 

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Posted in Utah DUI Sentencings

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