I’ve signed the online petition for First degree murder charges against Derek M. Chauvin. Why don’t you?Tommy Sheridan
I have not signed this petition and neither do I intend to. I am happy to explain why. The reason I decline to sign the petition can be summed up in two words – due process. The due process that was denied to George Floyd. To deny due process to the individual accused of killing George Floyd is to compound the alleged offence.
Abuse of the authority of public office is a serious offence. It is particularly heinous when the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer entrusted with extraordinary powers over citizens. Abuse of that power undermines the rule of law which is the foundation and supporting framework of civilised society.
Denial of due process undermines the rule of law. In cases where the offence itself abuse of authority – which is in all instances a denial of due process – particular care must be taken to ensure that the tendency to undermine the rule of law is not aggravated by further denial of due process.
That George Floyd was denied due process and the protections he was entitled to under the law is undeniable. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances people afforded due process and the protections of the law do not end up dead by the actions or neglect of law enforcement officers.
Where a citizen does end up dead or injured whilst in the custody of police officers then all the circumstances of the incident must be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken against any person suspected of having committed an offence. Due process demands that all aspects of both the investigation and any subsequent action be conducted according to law and by the duly constituted authority.
It is for that duly constituted authority to determine whether further action is called for and what form that action should take. It is for the prosecuting authority to decide whether and what charges should be brought against any person accused of an offence. There is no place for mob rule in due process.
Far from the least of the considerations which must inform the prosecuting authority’s decision on how to charge a person accused of an offence is the viability of the prosecution. It is a matter of what can be proved in a court of law. It may reasonably be maintained that no prosecution is preferable to a failed prosecution. And that conviction on a lesser charge is better than acquittal on a greater charge.
There are a multitude of very sound reasons why public opinion should not be a factor in the deliberations of the prosecuting authority any more than it should inform the judgement of the court in which the case is pursued. Justice is only served by judgement stripped of emotion.
The anger, fear and hatred of the mob is no less an unacceptable intrusion into due process than the emotions of a police officer who abuses his or her power. I will not be part of that mob. I will not contribute to that intrusion. I will not sign that petition.
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