Trial by jury? Presumption of innocence? What’s Biden got against the English law?

Trial by jury? Presumption of innocence? What's Biden got against the English law?.

by Marc S. Berman · April 13, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden recently called for changing “white man’s culture.” When I heard that, I figured that he meant, say, ditching Cole Porter for Daddy Yankee and Snow. I mean, who needs a verbose song like “So in Love” — “Strange, dear/ but true, dear/ when I’m close to you, dear/ the stars fill the sky” — when contemporary hits like “Con Calma” get to the point so much faster — “I like your poom-poom, girl.”

So imagine my surprise when I heard the actual speech of “Lunchbox Joe.” He mentioned nothing about rolling over Beethoven. He didn’t even dis Plato or Rembrandt.

Rather, Biden merely stated that “English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture” must “change.” For those who only speak English, “jurisprudential” refers to the theory behind the law.

English common law forms the basis of American law. Biden cited the so-called rule of thumb to support his argument for change. He claimed that the rule was an English common law that allowed a husband to beat his wife if the club used was no thicker than the husband’s thumb.

Now, there is no record that the rule of thumb was ever part of English law. Still, as a former criminal prosecutor, I can also see Biden’s larger point. I wish I had a dollar for every case where I wanted to nail someone who looked guilty, but I was restrained by some antiquated common law rule, such as, for example, the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

In some cases, I didn’t have any witnesses to the crime. Though I did have police officers at times who could testify that a “confidential informant” told them that the defendant did it. Yet, because of the stupid English jurisprudential ban against hearsay, I was out of luck. Those defendants walked.

Even today, when I maintain a civil law practice, the judges make me produce — sit down for this — evidence that proves that it’s more likely than not that my client should prevail. I’d get a lot more business if I could just waltz into court, mellifluously hurl unsupported allegations at the other side, and win over the jury that way. But that’s how English law works.

Come to think of it, the whole trial-by-jury thing also arose from English jurisprudence. It can take hours, days, sometimes weeks to pick an impartial jury. There has got to be a more efficient way.

Take the old Soviet legal system, and its facsimiles in China, Cuba, and North Korea. My father-in-law hails from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He advises that socialist republics do not burden themselves with the whole English jurisprudential deal.

In Russia, my father-in-law was a prominent doctor. Thus, he occasionally found himself in the office of the local commissar. There he would sometimes overhear a call from a judge. The judge needed to know how to decide a particular case. So the commissar would instruct the judge how to rule.

What a model of efficiency! It’s nice to see that, thanks to people like Biden, we’re already making inroads toward changes that may yet fundamentally transform our legal system into a Soviet-style model of justice.

In the old days of full white, English jurisprudential supremacy, accusations of criminal conduct wouldn’t be publicized by the press, let alone investigated by the authorities, without being backed up by credible evidence. But today, someone can accuse anybody deemed politically incorrect of any crime, however improbable, and the case will turn into a cause célèbre. There’s no need for the accuser to even remember trivial details such as time or place. And there’s certainly no need for witnesses.

Biden may be white and of partial English ancestry. Yet there’s little doubt that if he ever becomes president, much more of that old-fashioned English jurisprudence will go the way of Biden’s original hair follicles.

Accordingly, from here on, I’m not going to even think anything that might offend people like Biden. Can’t risk any accusations against me. Unlike my father-in-law, I don’t know any commissars.

Marc S. Berman is an attorney and writer based in New Jersey.

Washington Examiner · by Marc S. Berman · April 13, 2019

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