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Austin Cline

Innocent Until Proven Guilty, or Guilty Until Proven Innocent? (Book Notes: Miranda)

By June 24, 2006

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Almost every American is familiar with their 'Miranda' rights - their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, etc. In fact, many people all over the world are familiar with these rights, even if they live in a place that doesn't grant them. What some may find surprising is that even in America, some continue to object to these rights.

In Miranda: The Story Of America's Right To Remain Silent, Gary L. Stuart writes: Miranda: The Story Of America's Right To Remain Silent

The most frequent criticism of Miranda, in the years after it was handed down, has been that the ruling makes law enforcement more difficult because the primary advantage of the “old world of criminal procedure” has been lost: Police can no longer interrogate a suspect quickly, before the suspect has a chance to concoct an alibi or reflect at length on the legal consequences of truthful confessions....

Perhaps the most radical and foolish attack in this vein came from former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, who, when asked whether “suspects” should have the right to have a lawyer present before police questioning, replied “Suspects who are innocent of a crime should. But the thing is you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”

Utterly amazing. The former attorney general of the United States of America actually believes that everyone suspected of a crime must necessarily be guilty, otherwise they wouldn’t be suspected in the first place. Edwin Meese apparently doesn’t believe that people are innocent until proven guilty; not only are people guilty until proven innocent, they are guilty from the moment they are suspected.

You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. Do you understand these rights? Apparently some prominent conservatives don’t — if they did, they wouldn’t object to them so strongly.


Read More Book Notes from the Book Reviews on this site.

July 6, 2006 at 12:59 pm
(1) John says:

Perhaps Meese developed his theory of the probable guilt of suspects when conducting his inquiry of the involvement of his boss (Ronald Reagan) in the Iran-Contra scandal.

June 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(2) Jeanne says:

Actually, the words “innocent until proven guilty” do not appear in the constitution. Many things we take for granted are not in the constitution but implied by the wording For example, we are not entitled to a trial by a jury of our peers but by an unbiased jury. So, why should a jury be unbiased? If the person was presumed guilty, that would be unnecessary. So, it must mean that the jury is going to hear evidence. If the jury is going to hear evidence, then their decision must be based on that evidence. If the jury has to hear and consider the evidence, then it must follow that the person must be proven guilty. Hence, they are innocent until proven guilty. So, then it also follows that a person cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves.

February 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm
(3) Bess says:

The laws are not as good as they once were, I mean, now it’s ALL about the Money! If you have it things go well. The ones that don’t are taken away. They are just a case number not a person. I agree that most men who are accused of violence may be guilty if they are in jail more than once. But not all of them are and for that they are GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT. The kicker here is that the girl said it was not true(but so many do that ) that’s way some guys get the raw deal. This is their whole life and it’s over all because someone wanted to prove a point. There has got to be Attorneys and Prosecutors that care about the people more than the money! Not likely.

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