Presumption of Innocence is a Fallacy in American Jurisprudence: The Aaron Hernandez Case

One of the things that has always bothered me about the American jurisprudence system is the notion that the accused are presumed innocent. The fallacy of this notion starts from the moment the accused is chained from hands to ankles, like a criminal, and made to stagger into the court room.

The recent events surrounding the arrest of Aaron Hernandez for an alleged murder, clearly demonstrates the fallacy of “innocent until proven guilty”. Although the news media dances around the notion of innocence by using words such as “alleged” it nonetheless uses headlines and imagery designed to satisfy the viewer’s hunger for salacious gossip about those they perceive to be better than them. Google “Aaron Hernandez” and the results are a mixture of arrest photos and commentary intermingled with his football prowess.

The news media is a business driven by the eyes it generates to its vehicle and the fact is that gossip attracts while real news is, well boring to most. As a business I cannot fault them for creating the necessary content to drop eyeballs on the advertising they live off, of. That is the necessity of having a market-driven news media.

My problem is with the government and especially the legal process. The notion is that the accused is that, an accused, in where the government must prove their guilt. The fact is that Aaron Hernandez is accused of murder and has yet to be proven guilty. At this point, only he knows if he is guilty or not. But the legal system has already chained him up and paraded him before the cameras. The legal system has already incarcerated him, like a criminal. The legal system has already punitively applied sanctions like bail hearings and jailing him for an alleged crime, all the while pretending he is “innocent”.

The prosecutors, who as the notion of innocence demands are supposed to be looking for the truth, to “serve justice”, are instead pontificating that Hernandez “orchestrated an execution”.

How is justice being served when the prosecutors have already made up their minds?

The fact is that I do not know anything about Aaron Hernandez, his football career or the crime he is accused of committing so my comments have nothing to do on whether he committed this crime or not but rather on how the systems, which advocates “innocent until proven guilty” is obviously not subscribing to that notion.

More importantly, the community at large has already convicted him. Take for example the University of Florida taking the unilateral decision to removing all references to Hernandez. How is that a presumption of innocence?

The American jurisprudence system is designed to bring together three bodies before a neutral party, the judge, to determine the guilt of the accused. Contrary to popular culture, a trial is only to determine guilt, and not innocence. The three bodies are the prosecutors, the defense and the jury. Under the system, the purpose of the prosecution should be about finding the truth and not about stifling public outcry as they did in the Zimmerman trial. To get to the truth, the prosecution is supposed look for the facts in the case and let the facts lead them to a conclusion. The prosecution is not supposed to look for evidence that leads them to a predisposed conclusion. How is the Hernandez’ prosecutors serving this notion when they publicly castigate Hernandez before all of the evidence has been collected?

More importantly, how can Aaron Hernandez expect to be “presumed innocent” when he has already been chained, jailed and publicly castigated for an alleged crime? And how is a jury of peers supposed to determine his guilt if the community at large, including the judicial system has already convicted him?

The American jurisprudence system is not about “innocent until proven guilty”.