Saturday, May 18, 2013

Arlington, MA, Police Arrest Innocent Man in New York

Not really.

But the reporting of the arrest here: and here: bumps up against one of my pet peeves.
Mr. ___ is innocent until proven guilty.
If he is "innocent", why did they arrest him? What they are talking about is the constitutional presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence says that we must treat a criminal defendant AS IF he is innocent until he is proven guilty. Mr. ___ may actually be innocent. His arrest on a warrant just means that the police thought and convinced a judge or magistrate that they had probable cause to believe he had committed a crime. What the APD should have said in its press release, and what I will say here, is "The charges are only allegations at this point. Mr. ___ is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

In actuality, if someone IS actually innocent, he will remain that way EVEN IF he is convicted in court. Unfortunately, we have way too many incidents of innocent people being convicted or even pleading to crimes to ignore the irony of misrepresenting the constitutional provision.

Innocent people are convicted but they remain innocent nonetheless.


Bob Sprague said...

Is your peeve with the reporting or with the person who said it?

I understand your point, but these stories are quoting what Chief Fred Ryan wrote in a news alert.

Bob Sprague

MLR said...

I did see that the language was attributed to Chief Ryan in one story and the Arlington Police Department in the other.

So, yes, my peeve was with the APD press release and not the reporting.

MLR said...

Bob Sprague's comment prompted me to edit my original post. I was not reporting on the story and so did not need the name of the arrestee. I made it clearer, I think, that it was the APD that worded the innocence comment the way it was reported. And, I realized that I probably should have emphasized that my "Not really" in regard to innocent man was not intended as an assertion of his guilt. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Therefore, I added that statement.

Bob Sprague said...

I have decided to insert [presumed] into Chief Ryan's quote. Thanks for your comment, Michael.

See the updated story at

Bob Sprague