The two loudest debates going on in America today are whether Paul Manafort is guilty of the crimes alleged against him and the Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases involving many children. The American legal system has failed the people. Yes, that’s right, the American legal system has failed the people and the Catholic abuse and the Manafort case proves this.
The failure centers on the idea that the American legal system is better than the other systems across the world. The notion that the presumption of innocence is paramount is noble and that is how it should be. The notion that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutors is also noble. And, the idea that the government’s power to incriminate or investigate people should be checked through a balance of power approach is also noble.
But those issues are foot notes in today’s American legal system.
First, the notion that people are presumed innocent is promptly thrown out the window when people arrested for crimes are shackled and paraded before the press like animals. Shackling people is punitive and thus assumes the individual is guilty.
The idea that the proof lies with the prosecutors and investigations against people should be checked against privacy are also thrown out the window by the legal system that forgets that a crime is a crime whether procedures were followed.
For example, there is raging debate over whether the Mueller investigation overstepped its legal bounds by prosecuting Manafort over a case that has little, to nothing to do with Russian interference. Obviously, many of those arguing that it is “witch hunt” argue to protect Donald Trump.
But lost in that rhetoric is the fact that a crime was alleged. If so, who cares how the alleged crime was discovered. If the crime was committed, then shouldn’t it be prosecuted?
Discussing this reality, it is important to distinguish between prosecuting the crime and protecting the rights of the alleged criminal. Manafort has every right to demand that his rights be protected, except for the idea that he can’t be prosecuted because the prosecutor did not have the authority to do so.
The crime remains and thus it should be prosecuted whether the prosecutor had the authority to investigate it in the first place.
But probably the most egregious part of gaming the legal system is the idea that a crime, especially a horrific one like the sexual abuse of children somehow has a limitation of time to prosecute. Yes, there is the fact that over time, witnesses forget important details and evidence might degrade or get lost, but the crime remains. The victims don’t have a statue of limitations where the pain goes away.
The statue of limitations, like the idea that only certain prosecutors can prosecute a crime ignores the fundamental truth that a crime is a crime, is a crime. The crime victims suffer regardless of the gamesmanship of whether the statue of limitations has expired or whether the crimes should have been prosecuted to begin with.