A man in Seattle accused me of stealing money from his neighbor. A woman in Shreveport also accused me of taking property from one of her neighbors.
Now I have to defend myself!
I apologize. I’m just making all this up. But the point behind it is valid. Can anybody make false accusations about anybody they want to?
Of course not. We have a court system that is pretty good at protecting us from this. There are some big flaws in the system, but this is not one of them. Even though I made up the first paragraph, two judicial principles behind it are good and really need to be upheld.
1. You don’t have the right to accuse somebody unless they directly harmed you. In other words, you can’t file a lawsuit because somebody did something wrong to somebody else. The person or persons who have been wronged have to file the suit. Otherwise, everybody could file suits on behalf of anybody else from Seattle to Shreveport and so on.
2. The one who makes the accusation has to prove that the accusation is true. It’s not the accused person’s job to prove it isn’t true.
For example, it’s not my job in the two fake instances I gave above to prove I didn’t do it. It’s the accusers’ job to prove that I did it. In other words, the answer to the question in the title of this article is: No. The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused.
“Burden” is a heavy word! But it emphasizes the point. If the accused was the one who had to prove that he was innocent, anybody in the world could keep accusing me of anything they wanted to. There are 60 trillion things I am not doing every second. Millions of cases could be filed against millions of people! The accuser is the one who has to come up with evidence that the accused did something illegal.
This is not just a casual discussion. These two distinctions are very vital because of the question that seems to be distressing millions of voters: Was the last election “stolen” from the former president or not? Has he or his representatives brought this to court?
How would one find this out? I know a place: Google! So I Googled: “Republican court challenges to 2020 election.” Many of the references that came up are old because most of these cases were resolved before Jan. 6 of last year.
The report from USA Today seemed the most comprehensive, although it was a year old. It says:
“The president and his allies filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking to overturn election results in states the president lost, according to Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer who is tracking the outcomes. . .. Out of the 62 lawsuits filed challenging the presidential election, 61 have failed, according to Elias.”
I didn’t review all of the other 35,299,999 entries Google came up with. I did look at several, none of which claimed that he won the election. Wikipedia has a summary of the lawsuits.
These 62 lawsuits followed the 2 principles above:
“Principle 1” – You can’t accuse somebody unless they directly harmed you: “The Supreme Court refused to let Texas challenge the election results in four battleground states critical to Trump’s defeat. The court said Texas did not demonstrate “a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” In other words, Texas can’t make a charge against Pennsylvania unless it harmed Texas.
I don’t know how many cases were dismissed on Principle 2: Insufficient or no evidence. I suspect many or all of them didn’t fulfill the “burden of proof.” The accuser has to produce some evidence that a crime was committed by the other person. Evidence is “facts.” Simply making a claim doesn’t give you a right to go to trial.
Many of the other 61 cases may not even have gone to trial, if the accuser didn’t provide sufficient evidence to the judge to call a trial. Repeating an accusation in the media over and over again doesn’t make it true. The courts decide.
I believe in law and order. I believe in the courts and the court system. I also believe that the courts and how our government runs need a great many reforms. Regardless, we should live within the laws until we change them lawfully.
I am happy the courts follow these two principles. I am surely happy I don’t have to go to Seattle and Shreveport to defend myself against any false accusations.