Guilty until proven innocent

| 13/12/2012

The arrest of Cayman’s premier by officers from the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, his detainment, questioning and subsequent release on bail without being charged has provided reasons for those who defend the ancient tenet of criminal law that a person is innocent until proven guilty to further suggest to that we should discontinue discussing this aspect of our politics.

In any case, this legal tenet seems to be a misnomer, and according to the US Supreme Court, the presumption of the innocence of a criminal defendant is best described as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of the contrary evidence. This is indulged within the court not equally within other instructions of society because the reality to most people is that no defendant would face arrest unless somebody – the crime victim, the prosecutor, a police officer – believes that the defendant was guilty of a crime. 

After many months of investigations by the police into the conduct of the premier, the police are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing for them to have arrested the premier in yet another step in the collation of the evidence required by a rational court as proof of his guilt. The goal of the police has been and is to gain more compelling evidence of the premier’s guilt, not his innocence.

We may reasonably assume that the longer the period of investigation the more probable are the chances ofhis being charged, and if charged, convicted of some offence.  The fact that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty should not impede the investigatory  process in its search for evidence to prove guilt and it should not prevent those dissatisfied with the premier’s performance from continuing to compile additional grounds for his dismissal from office.  

The tenet innocent until proven guilty was never intended to impede freedom of speech or political criticism and judgement of those empowered with the trust of the public. What is for certain is that a simple accusation by someone that another citizen has committed a crime begins a process of depriving the accused citizen of rights which he would not have been deprived of had he not been accused of having committed a breach of society’s rules.

If a citizen is accused by another citizen of having committed the crime or theft, rape, murder or any of these serious crimes, the police may use their power and judgement to deprive the accused of his freedom with the presumption that the person will be proven guilty by the courts. Therefore, we may like to believe that a person is innocent until proven quality but this principle of our jurisprudence does not protect an individual against arrest and imprisonment, nor from the moral and political outrage of the society.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (22)

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  1. Former RCIP Officer says:

    Funny but this seems to be a new tact taken by Dr Frank. I’m almost positive Dr Frank didn’t feel this way nor would he have argued this point after his arrest some years back for numerous offenses. And that investigation didn’t take long to end in prosecution and conviction.

  2. Pit Bull says:

    One thing that Cayman should be thankful for is that it has so many of its politicians with direct knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cheap shot, Mr Bull. Especially coming from a UK person who is no doubt aware of the ongoing long running scandal about the fraudulent excesses of MPs cheating the UK taxpayers with their "allowances".  You might, for example, want to check out/google my old friend Michael Martin, former Speaker of the UK Parliament,, aka Gorbals Mick, aka Lord Martin of some damn thing or another. His financial shenanigans (ie cheating the taxpayer) were and still are legendary. You must not presume when you make your one sentence nasty, condescending,  snide, sarcastic ( I can't even dignify them by calling them ironic) and anti- Caymanian remarks that they are read only by Caymanians who you want to piss off and who have no knowledge of the disgraceful criminal activities of UK parliamentarians. There are a few of us out here not blinded by your orgasmic UK vision who can see your fly is open.

      • Pit Bull says:

        An unpleasant mixed metaphor at the end.  But as a percentage of the 600 plus MPs and the nearly 800 members of the House of Lords, the criminal activities of a few were very very few and far between.  But in the UK our convicted criminalsdon't tend to stay in the cabinet or run for re-election as if nothing happened.  By the way, it was not an anti-Caymanian remark, it was an anti-politician remark, so please be a good chap and stop blowing things out of proportion (checking my fly is not open after that last remark).

         

  3. Devil's Advocate says:

     Firstly 'Dr. Frank', we are NOT a United States dependent territory, and our Laws are not based on any US Laws. 

     US Law has NO RELEVANCE here in the Cayman Islands, and as such your 'references' should be based on corresponding British Law, which prevails in our jurisdiction.

     Secondly, a comment asked about Dr Frank's own Criminal Record.

     I believe that his Medical Record is of far more significance.

     Now where did I put that parrot cage?

     

  4. Anonymous says:

    This article is pointless drivel.

  5. Anonymous says:

    For the leader of finance, tourism, and essentially all other portfolios to be implicated in several acts of Moral Turpitude should be sufficient grounds for suspension, and his duties should pass to the appointed deputy until the situation resolves.  Anywhere else this would have happened almost a year ago.

  6. noname says:

    McField talking about innocence is like Bush talking about integrity.  The Cayman in Caymankind.

  7. Anonymous says:

    can someone remind me of frank's criminal record?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear Frank,
    Please stop being so pedantic about things that you obviously know little about. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I say knowledge of the law gained from personal experience in the dock not not make you a lawyer, just an experienced defendant. And we have far too many of them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The presumption of innocence is perhaps the most fundamental tenet of liberty of the individual, for it is an easy thing for someone to accuse anyone of a crime, but, and rightly so, a much harder thing to establish guilt.

    This principle, coupled with placing the burden of proof on the state and requiring a higher standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) makes it difficult to secure a conviction, even where there is ample prima facie evidence of a crime being committed (which is the basis upon which a person is charged with an offence).

    Many a prosecutorial authority has lamented on the difficulty in securing convictions, particularly in small societies such as ours, where jurors tend to decide based on bias, familiarity, fear of reprisal, etc more so than in larger societies, they say.

    However, the rationale behind these fundamental tenets of criminal law, which exist is most, if not all, democratic societies, is posited on the basis that it is better to acquit 10 guilty men than convict one innocent one. This becomes much more important with serious crimes which carry heavier punishments.

    So, particularly where we have increases in crime rates or high profile crimes in the media, the debate will invariably ensue about whether these things are logical, fair and right or if they are too anachronistic to bring about justice in a modern society etc. Well, the rebuttall to the latter proposition would obviously be that with the marked, exponential advance of technology, it is becoming increasingly easier to detect and solve crimes. Yet, some complain we still have too many acquittals.

    However, I would invite you to consider this: if it were you, or a friend or family member who was charged with a crime, would you not want to know that such allegations (because that is all they are) were closely examined and tested by a competant authority before deciding on guilt?   

    As Bejamin Franklin so aptly put it, "any country that sacrifices a little liberty to gain a little security, deserves neither, and will lose both". 

    What I think we should complain more about is the apparent lack of efficency of the police and prosecutorial services as well as, in some instances, the judiciary in bringing these matters to a conclusion.

    Of course, every investigation takes some time, but it is hard to see justification for taking so many months to "investigate" a matter of the relative simplicity of credit card fraud or abuse of office. Worse yet, as seems to be the case with the Premier's matters, to take so many months to investigate, then make an arrest, interview the accused man, then bail him to come back three months later without laying any charges. One wonders if and when charges will be laid, and if so, when will the trial be? Given the usual timeframe for such matters, I can tell you it is unlikely it will be before May 2013.

    It is also untenable that, after being charged, an accused man must wait for months, or years in some instances, to have the matter tried. This is particularly so when the matter is of such a high profile that it impacts matters of state. "Justice delayed is justice denied" as the saying goes. It could be said that in this instances the Country as much as anyone else, deserves justice.

    Therein lies the problem. in this particular case, the accused and the public at large, and the image of this country, deserves and demands a speedy resolution to these matters. I am hopful that it does not take too long for justice to be found.

     

  10. noname says:

    Der. McField always makes sensible, informed, luinary and educated comments on the air as well as in the newspapers.

    Cayman has educated professionals, we are very proud.

    We speak for ourselves.

    • Bald Eagle says:

      Whose speech did you "cut and paste" this from and what is the point of this little ditty ,other than to snidely point a finger, without the balls to actually say what you mean.

      We all know where you stand (providing you haven't actually shot yourself in the foot) and we all know that you would never have posted this article, if it had been an Expat who had been arrested.

      As usual, you are full of contradiction and malice.

    • Rorschach says:

      said, NO ONE…EVER..

    • Anonymous says:

      You forgot "we are very gullible."

  11. Anonymous says:

    Finally, a sensible article from Dr. McField.

  12. Anon says:

    Oh Frank how quick you forget.

    How long were you investigated in relation to Housing.

    You say, today:

    We may reasonably assume that the longer the period of investigation the more probable are the chances of his being charged, and if charged, convicted of some offence.

    But you know better and tell it not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Politicians have rights in a court of law that do not apply and should not apply in the court of public opinion. They themselves constantly make unsupported claims about other people. The public is free to draw their own conclusions and give their judgment at the ballot box. No benefit of the doubt is due to people who seek power in government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like everything else the matter of the housing investigation could well rear its head again especially since there may be some information relative to the case that was not yet uncovered. I am certain that the arrest of the Premier must have caused some nervousness to those who may so far be lucky to have escaped prosecution.

    • Anonymous says:

      Frank the hypocrite! like Mac said, these are the people that didnt get what they wanted and are out to destroy him and country.