This morning I’ve listened to a lot of news reports on the indictments of the six police officers in Baltimore. In every single instance so far whenever a legal authority commented he or she expressed skepticism over the ability of prosecutors to secure convictions for the most serious of the charges. Some, like Alan Dershowitz, did so in very harsh terms:
“This is a very sad day for justice . . . Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots,” Dershowitz said on “The Steve Malzberg Show.”
“The mayor outrageously said we’re going to get justice for the victim, the family and people of Baltimore, never mentioning the defendants. Under our Constitution, the only people who are entitled to justice are the defendants.
“They are presumed innocent, they need due process of law, and the mayor and the state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial. They have been presumed guilty.”
The skepticism is very much in line with what I’ve been saying. Those who are convinced that justice for Freddie Gray lies in putting police officers behind bars for second degree murder should prepare themselves to be disappointed.
I don’t know what the truth of this case is. I’m reserving judgment, as I think all of us should. However, I do know that the presumption of innocence is the golden thread that runs through the web of the criminal law. The very large number of would-be Madame Defarges who are crying for blood today does not lead to a good place.