Friday, January 31, 2014

Quote of the day

A civil-liberties lawyer once said this: "Some people regard rape as so heinous an offense that they would not even regard innocence as a defense." See here.


  1. "Our legal system must strike a balance..."
    No, our legal system must strike an imbalance, in favor of the accused. The presumption of innocence is important.

    1. The presumption of innocence should be protected above all other considerations, period.

    2. "Our legal system must strike a balance to ensure that in our understandable ardor to convict the guilty we do not sacrifice the rights of the innocent, even--perhaps especially--when they are charged with horrible crimes such as rape."

      Sounds very much like our Mission Statement here at COTWA. In any event, I will not presume to argue with Prof. Dershowitz on rape law. We have cited his writings many times. We agree with him.

    3. Reading the article again, I still get the impression that he thinks the guilty going free and innocents being imprisoned are equal injustices, which sounds a lot like a disagreement with Blackstone. While he doesn't actually say we should use any standard other than "beyond a reasonable doubt", he also never states that that legal standard is the right one for these cases.

      Key words/phrases that gave me this impression:
      "occasionally" (in reference to false accusations)
      "understandable" (in reference to unique trial restrictions to increase conviction rates)
      "in general...positive change" (permitting conviction on the basis of the accuser's word alone)

      I get the sense that he is fully in support of how rape cases are governed by different laws and court procedures than other crimes, and thinks all we need to do is be a little bit more careful with these special courts. In my opinion, that's a very dangerous road.

    4. I disagree, Druk. No. I stuck a bunch of quotes from Prof. Dershowitz on Reddit yesterday:

      One of them is this: "When a guilty person goes free because of doubt, the system has worked. When an innocent person is convicted in a doubtful case, the system has failed."

      I am not here to claim rape doesn't happen or that false rape claims are worse. We are here to speak up for the innocent. Few Americans have done that more forcefully or with more credibility than Prof. Dershowitz.

    5. I'm gonna chalk it up to editing at the LA Times, because it sounds like a completely different person wrote it.

      Thanks for the link.

    6. Or maybe it's that the LA Times article is nearly 30 years old. I did not notice that before. No wonder it sounds so different.