A Civics Lesson

The public has sat idly by and let the organized prosecutors amend the Law until the constitutional guarantees of the public were swept away. We’re living in a period of changing times. It’s quite possible that the definition of crime will be broadened to include things which we might at present list in the category of political crimes. When the ordinary citizen is dragged into court, he’ll find that the cards have been stacked against him. Ostensibly, they were stacked against the professional criminal by organized public servants, but actually they’ve been stacked against Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Citizen, because the whole procedure has been completely undermined.

It’s high time for citizens to wake up to the fact that it isn’t a question of whether a man is guilty or innocent, but whether his guilt or innocence can be proved under a procedure which leaves in the citizen the legal rights to which he is entitled under a constitutional government.

The most interesting aspect of this most interesting statement is that it is from 1942, when Erle Stanley Gardner penned these lines in The Case of the Careless Kitten, one of Gardner’s many Perry Mason novels. I could add a great deal of commentary to Gardner’s passage, and connect them to our contemporary situation, but that would only diminish his eloquence. Certainly, his words speak for themselves and speak across time.

We do indeed seem to be “waking up.” Hopefully, it is not too late.

Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason’s creator

About Austin Gisriel

You know the guy that records a baseball game from the West Coast in July and doesn't watch it until January just to see baseball in the winter? That's me. I'm a writer always in search of a good story, baseball or otherwise.
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