Presumption of Innocence?
Last night, I went and saw the It Gets Better book signing. It was amazing. My throat was still hurting from a lingering cold, so I took some advil and went to bed. The advil-induced stomach upset was keeping me up, so I left the bed to return a couple of hours later. I went to sleep and had a dream that, at its core, is upsetting. I'm still trying to unpack what it means.
I'm in an auditorium. My client is on stage. She's a young girl, brown curly hair, about 20. She's alive, but in a pine box, the cheap coffin-type.
The auditorium is packed. This is a trial. But there is no formality. The Sheriff and the judge are in the last two rows, on the far right of the auditorium. The Sheriff is seated behind the judge.
I hand my briefing to the Sheriff. He reviews it. He tells me, "The Judge ain't gonna like this none."
He taps the Judge on the shoulder, hands him my two briefs. I'm scared for my client, already in a pine box. This is her last shot. If this doesn't work, she doesn't come out. I have knots in my stomach thinking about what she must be feeling. I tell his honor, "You know she's entitled to be presumed innocent." His honor, still reading my briefs, mutters, "That ain't how we did things back then"...the back then he's referring to is now. If you haven't picked up on it, we're in the old west.
The judge starts sweating. He knows I'm right. But like a lot of judges, he doesn't want to be seen as soft on crime, and if the truth is a casualty of that, he doesn't care much. But I'm too compelling in my writing. If there's one thing a judge is more afraid of than appearing soft on crime, its reversal.
He signals to his clerk, who is up on stage. I go up, briefs in hand. The clerk reads:
"Due to the unfortunate circumstance of the sole evidence in this case being deleted from the record, the Court has no choice but to free the Defendant."
I am joyous for my client, but seethe at this clerk's jaded interpretation.
I wake up feeling that the judge was right. That the presumption is on the accused to protest her innocence, rather than rightfully on the prosecution. The prosecution, simply by virtue of the Defendant being there....he has them sealed in that pine box. No one goes in the pine box unless they've done something horrific. No one goes in the pine box without being guilty. If you get your client out of the pine box, it must be a technicality.
And I really don't know how to deal with that.