Presumption of Innocence
ith the recent Supreme Court hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, we hearken back to early American history and the more recent case of Clarence Thomas, where we see emotionally driven testimony lacking the support of factual evidence.
In the example of John Adams, some of the most powerful men in Boston opposed his case. On behalf of the accused British soldiers, he faced off against John Hancock, Sam Adams and Joseph Warren, as well as the wholly partisan press, and the visual media — illustrated by the popular and respected Paul Revere, who represented the mob as “victims.”
Adams knew that the presumption of innocence was at stake when he uttered the above powerful words — as apropos today as in 1770.
On our history tour of Boston we stand on the spot where British soldiers were pelted with rocks and ice and, fearing for their lives, fired in self-defense. Or was it revenge for verbal abuse suffered over the previous months? Smoldering anti-British sentiment ignited into blind emotional hatred. Against a tidal wave of public opinion, Adams built his case on facts and evidence, arguing that the innocent should be protected at all costs or the law would cease to have meaning. He won his case, but this timeless principle must be defended in every generation.
God’s Remedy for Bearing False Witness
“If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” —Deuteronomy 19:16-19, ESV