On 13 July, the Department of Justice announced a reversal of its previous judicial guidelines, entitled “Start by believing.” This un-Constitutional gem actually instructed prosecutors to begin all investigations with the premise that the accused is guilty (rather than innocent.)
… And Justice for All
When our legal system prosecutes some people and not others for the same crimes, we have created systemic injustice to all Americans through the politicization of our laws. When our legal system hides behind secret courts to consider whether they should issue warrants against our citizens, then our courts have perverted the spirit and the intent of the United States Constitution.
When government, through the creation of secret courts, declares persons or groups of persons guilty of some crime and punishes them without trial, then that government in effect nullifies those citizen’s civil rights. Lately, we seem to have forgotten that all persons are innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.
The US Congress, in league with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, issued a de facto bill of attainder against Donald J. Trump and got away with it. No one seems to care about that because it was Donald J. Trump, whom no one on the political left likes.
“When we say, ‘One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,’ we are talking about all people. We either ought to believe it or quit saying it.” —Hubert Humphrey
And then we have the situation where literally hundreds of citizens have been arrested by federal agents and charged with a wide range of crimes relating to the demonstrations at the nation’s capital on 6 January 2021. These are people whom the FBI arrested and retained behind bars without a bail hearing. Many of them, so we are told, remain in solitary confinement. Is this American Justice in 2021?
“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ll suggest that our government has long perverted our legal system — and to such extent that it no longer reflects the intent of the U. S. Constitution. We should only charge people when there is a reasonable belief that they have violated our laws, such views being only after a full and impartial investigation of the facts and circumstances of some event or series of events, and then afford these people the complete protection of our laws in an open court. The spirit of our law is “innocent until proven guilty.” That isn’t what we have in the United States today, however.
“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peacefully to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — First Amendment.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” — Fourth Amendment.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” — Fifth Amendment.
The government’s arbitrary violations of the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been substantial over the past twenty or so years. It may not matter much to anyone — unless or until the government charges them with serious offenses, and then it is more than a matter of having one’s day in court. It is the terrible effects of the accusation, observing the total weight of the government descending upon an accused’s status as a free citizen, the financial ruin of hiring attorneys in matters that can take years to resolve … all during which time the government has taken away something that unrecoverable: their reputation.
On 13 July, the Department of Justice announced a reversal of its previous judicial guidelines, entitled “Start by believing.” This un-Constitutional gem actually instructed prosecutors to begin all investigations with the premise that the accused is guilty (rather than innocent) and then proceed in the following manner:
- Strive to make the sexual encounter appear to be non-consensual by teaching the complainant to seem “more innocent.”
- Always conceal inconsistencies in the complainant’s statements by not writing a detailed report for any victim or witness who has already provided a detailed, written summary of events.
- Always slant the investigative report so that it increases the chance of a conviction. Investigators should always focus on witnesses’ statements that only serve to corroborate the victim’s account of the incident.
There can be no more remarkable example of the government’s intentional violation of citizens’ rights than the “Start by believing” investigative methods stipulated as preferred by the US Department of Justice. As a means to ensure that state and federal prosecutors followed these guidelines, the DOJ offered “technical assistance grants” to state and federal attorneys’ offices under the “End Violence Against Women International,” amounting to $10 million.
In effect, the DOJ has encouraged prosecuting officials and law enforcement agencies to violate law enforcement ethical standards and violate defendants’ rights to honest, impartial, and fair investigations — which are always the basis for prosecution. From the same people who continue to lecture all of us on the disparate treatment of black citizens, the “Start by believing” methodology had a tremendously negative impact on black male defendants, which significantly increased the likelihood that they would be convicted of a sex crime, even when it was clear to any investigator of average intelligence that the complainant was lying.
Meanwhile, the Center for Prosecutor Integrity notes that the DOJ continues to promote “traumatic-informed” investigative methods, which urges investigative officials to provide an empathetic ear to all alleged victims of sex-related crimes. Again, this DOJ policy is in clear contravention to the spirit and intent of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights because it encourages biased and unethical methods in criminal investigations/prosecutions.
By the way, if nothing else, the preceding should make one wonder “what else” the nation’s Department of Justice has done to violate the rights of citizens who stand accused of breaking the law. It should make one wonder how many innocent persons are in prison for something they didn’t do, and beyond that, wonder what kind of “lawyers” our top law schools are turning out to become rogue prosecutors (a very politicized position, as it turns out).
- The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, Rockville, Maryland
- End Violence Against Women International, Colville, Washington
- National Registry of Exonerations, University of Michigan, “Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent: The role of prosecutors, police, and other law enforcement, Samuel R. Gross, Senior Editor.
- Related Editorials, Center for Prosecutor Integrity
- International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Bonus: Beware the Administrative Warrants – that is what else they can do: