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  • Writer's pictureTony Vieira

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.– Proverbs 18:13

It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.

– William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England


Avoid legal punishments as far as possible, and if there are any doubts in the case then use them, for it is better for a judge to err towards leniency than towards punishment.

– Muhammad, Sunan At-Tirmidhi


The Presumption of Innocence, all by itself, creates a demand in the heart for a predictable manner, time, and place for proof of claims of wrong conduct and conforms to our expectation that any truthful accuser will bring his proof and will do so in a context where the accused, likewise, has the opportunity to counter that proof and to bring his own proof. This notion of the Presumption of Innocence and it’s ever present corollary, the Burden of Proof, is a fundamental defense against tyranny and against rule by the beastly and everywhere threatening principle that might makes right.

Without the Presumption of Innocence there is no initial enforceable demand for proof and where there is no initial enforceable demand for proof there is no process at all. It simply never arises either in thought or in fact. And where there is no process there is only mindlessness – fallen man acting out his assumption in wildness and in revenge – lynch mobs, wild west justice, and Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, killing old Priam. The avenger is not typically a thoughtful man. And both the innocent and the guilty are slaughtered.

Whether in the formality of a court of law or in the informality of our day-to-day of giving people the benefit of the doubt we are ethically obliged to carefully make the effort to search out and hear both sides of a matter before we pronounce judgment on the conduct of another.

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