Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Taking a good point too far

Posted by Ron Coleman on August 10, 2007

Anonymous blogger Let Freedom Ring (via Glenn) does a great job pinning down the weasely awfulness of the despicable Rep. John Murtha, the convenient veteran who condemned two marines involved in the Haditha killings before any but the most preliminary investigation had been made or charges brought. Now that they have been all but cleared, he has no comment. As LFR writes:

Murtha’s staffer is essentially taking an indefensible position because Rep. Murtha has repeatedly made irresponsible and indefensible statements about these Marines. This highlights an obvious double standard on Murtha’s behalf. He didn’t think twice about making these unfounded accusations while the initial NCIS investigation was being conducted but he won’t say a word now when two of the men he accused of cold-blooded murder have been totally exonerated.

Fair enough. It’s a shame that LFR runs off the rails shortly thereafter, however, spreading legal disinformation to wit:

As I’ve stated before, his accusations were made before charges had been filed against any of these Marines is a clear violation of their due process rights. Similarly, he violated their right to a fair trial. To top that off, he attempted to have them presumed guilty instead of giving them the benefit of being presumed innocent.

But there is no due process right not to have a Congressman call you names. There is almost certainly no right to a fair trial violated by that same behavior. And “attempt[ing] to have them presumed guilty” is, similarly, just a silly, meaningless formulation. Congressmen, columnists and bloggers don’t have to presume innocence. Only juries and judges do.

This is a good political point, and so me nice first-hand reporting, by what seems to be a good (and popular) blog. Actually, a terrific one. Not a very good legal point, though. Actually, a very bad one. Maybe that’s why he or she is anonymous. I’d still rather have Let Freedom Ring covering my back than John Murtha, whose name we would just as soon forget.


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