Innocent until proven guilty?

Today I received an email from the Utah Eagle Forum, presented as an “Action Alert”.  I am usually and generally in agreement with the Eagle Forum.  They are not the extremist organization that hate mongers would make them out to be.

However, today’s Action Alert departs from the standard high credibility for which the Utah Eagle Forum is well-known.  It comes rushing to the defense of Attorney General John Swallow.  The logic behind that race-to-defense is as suspect as the allegation they pose against those who they claim have rushed to judgement against the embattled Attorney General.

The Forum uses the convenient number of ten to list the egregious attacks on John Swallow.  Some items on that list are shallow underminings of reason at best. Others are simply flawed understandings of popular, yet misguided phrases.  I speak of the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” sentiment.

Says the Eagle Forum’s Action Alert, “Under the law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, a concept apparently forgotten by the media.”  This is sound if properly understood, and not applied to a pending impeachment…which the Forum is applying it to.

Let’s begin with the obvious.  “Innocent until proven guilty” is not a phrase found in the Constitution.  The presumption that the government must prove guilt is certainly there.  It is just and sound doctrine.  But even then it applies to proving criminal accusations.  The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” was used by the courts to clarify the intent of the language of the Constitution.  Yet, even then the courts consistently have opined that a person tried must be proven guilty “beyond reasonable doubt”.  Reasonable doubt does not mean “beyond ANY doubt”.

The Free Legal Dictionary, which provides historical precedent in addition to simple definitions, states,

“The presumption of innocence, an ancient tenet of Criminal Law, is actually a misnomer. According to the U.S. 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 contrary evidence (Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 98 S. Ct. 1930, 56 L. Ed. 2d 468 [1978]). It is not considered evidence of the defendant’s innocence, and it does not require that a mandatory inference favorable to the defendant be drawn from any facts in evidence.”

With respect to the indulgence in financial dalliance, of which ample accusation has been proffered, there is no need to even consider “innocence until proven guilty” in an impeachment procedure.  Impeachment is not about determining criminal innocence or guilt.  It is about evaluating credibility and social fitness for office.  There are voices of special interest that would have us deceived into believing otherwise.  But, that just ain’t so.

Neither impeachment nor public sentiment must comply with the standard of reasonable doubt or innocence until proven guilty, in determining the merits of a public servant.  To suggest otherwise would lead to depriving all people of their right of conscience.

Those voices as represented by the presumption of the Eagle Forum’s list of essentially required blindspots which states,

THE most important reason for the legislature to NOT initiate impeachment proceedings at this time is because Attorney General John Swallow has done absolutely nothing since becoming the attorney general of Utah that would justify or even suggest impeachment. Read what the Utah Constitution says about impeachment; “The Governor and other State and Judicial officers shall be liable to impeachment for high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.” Note that it specifies “in office.”  (emphasis added) Allegations brought prior to John’s becoming attorney general are irrelevant to an impeachment and have not been substantiated or proved by any CREDIBLE source and are currently being investigated by the FBI.”

John Swallow is relying upon the fact that he was elected by a sizable majority of the electorate.  Fair argument, although without substance.

  1. The indiscretions which he has not denied, potentially led to his having one of the largest campaign war chests in Utah history for any statewide candidate.
  2. The allegations against him were strategically hidden from public scrutiny several weeks before the election.  The result of which, if they had not be sequestered, might very well have resulted in a justified alternate outcome in the race.
  3. His conduct was apparently undenied malfeasance, although denied by those with a narrow perspective of protecting their political interests ahead of the overall social interests.  The timing of his misconduct may elude the phrase “malfeasance in office“.  But, ask the serious and relevant question does it diminish his “malfeasance FOR THE office”?  I happen to think it does not excuse him.

Further the Eagle Forum Action Alert uses strawman arguments about the costliness of impeachment.  First, the millions which they presume is pure speculation.  Second, are we to conclude that collusion in high places and continuance of corruption is less costly than cleansing the public conscience ?  Again, I think not.

Lastly, the Eagle Forum has tossed all of their apples into the bottomless basket of the FBI investigation.  Is this the same FBI that has a director that does not even know the name of his chief investigator in the most prominent case before them in fifty years?  Is this the same FBI that has failed to contact any of the parties aggrieved by the recent unconstitutional actions of the federal government.  Well, Yes, come to think of it they are the same.  It is unreasonable to rely upon the skills of an inept overreaching federal agency.  But, at least we can expect them to have the private phone records of private citizen…or be able borrow those records from the president’s campaign committee.  Oh, wait, that was an unfair assertion, …I guess.

There would be no need for an impeachment, if.  There would be no need for an investigation, if.  There would be no need for the ongoing drama, if.

If what?

If John Swallow would resign.  Nobody, except John Swallow caused the public focus on this issue.  Nobody but John Swallow is hung-up on his public financial benefit.  Despite efforts to question the integrity of his accusers, he need only look at his own long-term ongoing agenda of deception to see the cause.

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2 thoughts on “Innocent until proven guilty?

  1. There are allegations against AG Swallow from sources of questionable integrity. While Swallow may be guilty of these allegations, before jumping the gun and removing him from office based on unsubstantiated allegations, it is prudent to determine the real facts of the case and to thoroughly vet the accusers character and motivation.

    It is not beyond believability, given recent revelations about Democrats and the Obama Administration using various agencies of the government against the opposition, that a conspiracy exists to discredit and defame Swallow and others who have, for example, worked on establishing States Rights for Utah in regard to Utah’s right to stolen federal lands within our borders which the Administration adamantly opposes. Has the government used the NSA searchable database to blackmail people into making false accusations? Or using the IRS to extort people to do the same? Or having the FBI conceal evidence of Swallow’s innocence by delaying the release of any report?

    I don’t know if Swallow is corrupt or not; if he is, I would press for his resignation/impeachment and full prosecution for crimes. However, how would Utahns feel about having removed and defamed him if later evidence proves his innocence? Rather than condemning Swallow based on unsubstantiated allegations and making the leap to remove him from office, why not defer judgment until all the facts are known?

  2. You state that those making allegations against Swallow are of questionable integrity. That does not make them automatically flawed witnesses. Further, attorneys, formerly in the AG’s office, have filed complaints about him. His own comments have been proven false, and, he has admitted to some actions but claims they were technically not crimes, using an attorney’s convoluted reasoning.

    I would encourage you to read this blog post by Holly Richardson. http://hollyonthehill.com/john-swallow-and-a-timeline/.

    Lastly, Impeachment hearings are used to ascertain veracity of allegations. It is fully proper to pursue it. The house upon hearing the allegations and seeing the evidence then votes. 2/3rds is required to actually impeach.

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