The Honorable Judge Aaron Hayman
So, I’m having a rather entertaining debate with a friend on Facebook who thinks the election was stolen. We are currently arguing over what constitutes evidence. I’m mostly sharing this cause I had a lot of fun writing it and believe it’s entertaining. It also just happens to reflect my stance on things.
Also, I spent almost two hours on this and I didn’t want it to get lost deep in a Facebook comment thread.
Names have been redacted to protect the innocent. Except mine, but then, I can hardly be called innocent.
If your bar for evidence is something for which no other rational explanation can be given, then consider a man who kills another man by cutting the break lines in his car. Your honor, the lines could have been old, they could have been severed by accident by the last mechanic to work on the car. There are a dozen explanations for how this could have happened. The honorable Aaron Hayman would dismiss the case, as there were many different rational explanations for how the man died, none of which were true.
We are in danger of degrading this conversation into a debate. I love debates. I also recognize that my enthusiasm can be frustrating for others. So, if at any point you wish to desist this dangerous debating debacle, just let me know and we can shelve it for never.
Let’s set aside that my personal standards of evidence probably shouldn’t be foisted on the justice system. Of course, it’s pretty safe to assume that nothing personal of me should be foisted on others, ever, but for the sake of argument, let’s say the justice system has thrown out all semblance of sanity and decided that Aaron Hayman has achieved enlightenment and his standard of evidence is the only acceptable standard.
Let’s just assume that doesn’t break the world.
You’ve practically made my point for me. Perhaps the lines were old; perhaps the mechanic did accidentally sever them; or perhaps the accused man standing before the Honorable (ha!) Aaron Hayman did, in fact, sever the lines with the intent of killing our poor victim.
As the only Honorable available (cause that’s about the only way I can imagine this happening) how would I know?
The justice system is predicated on “innocent until proven guilty”. We don’t kill people (anymore, supposedly) just because we think they performed murder. It’s the burden of the accuser to prove guilt, not the burden of the accused to prove innocence. This is a really, really important aspect of our judicial system. The honorable judge kills honor the moment he sends the innocent to die.
So we require hard proof.
Eye witness accounts are a form of evidence, but generally considered one of the weakest. Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable, biased, and self contradictory. They are useful, though, especially when back up by “harder” evidence. So someone saw a shady figure with the same body type as the accused lurking around the victim’s car. The witness is absolutely certain it was the accused. No doubt, whatsoever. But still, we need more.
What is harder evidence?
Well, the line itself, for one. Can we inspect it? Was it old? If it wasn’t old, then we can rule that scenario out easily. What about the cut itself? Was it a clean cut? Did it tear? Are there burns? Did it disintegrate?
How the line was severed will tell us a lot and would be, generally, considered “hard” evidence.
Let’s say the line had disintegrated, and further investigation had revealed a very unique kind of acid had been used on the brake line to cause it to fail. We check, and sure enough, the mechanic doesn’t generally have access to something like that. Moreover, he has no motive. Turns out, killing your customers is horrible for business.
Our accused is looking more and more like our perpetrator. There’s no other suspects, but we still can’t kill a man simply because he’s the only one left in the room.
So we investigate further, and discover fingerprints on the underside of the car’s chassis and a hair was discovered wedged in nearby. DNA reveals a match to our accuser.
Wait, accuser? Yes! Shocking twist! The audience goes wild.
We learn the accuser, also known as the victim’s husband, had taken a life insurance policy out only a couple months ago, about the same time she started sleeping with the accused (who, by the way, has tearfully broken down at this point… because drama). Also, her husband is a chemist who worked in a chemical factory for over two decades. Also, on second glance we realize he and the accused do have similar body shapes. The wife, apparently, had a type.
Investigators rush out the room, the camera zooms on the husband, the courtroom goes wild, and the now red-faced Honorable Judge Hayman is repeatedly banging a comically undersized gravel in an attempt to regain order.
Ten minutes later the investigators rush back (cause you can’t really ask for the audience to wait the 3 days it actually takes to process evidence).
Traces of the acid are discovered in the basement workshop (the only place murder is ever planned); the empty bottles of their constituent parts are discovered in the not-yet gathered trash bags out front. The husband’s fingerprints are all over everything. Everything has been fully analyzed at this point. Yay! Go super investigators!
The eye witness sneaks out of the courtroom, embarrassed, to go drown their sorrows in a bottle of whiskey… again.
Okay, let’s take a step back from this comically contrived scenario and take another look. Each piece of evidence, from the eye witnesses to the cut line, the dna, etc, each are not enough to convict anyone. But when you add them up together, you eventually run out of alternative explanations. There comes a point where you have little choice but to say: “Yeah, the husband did it.”
What about a mass conspiracy to commit election fraud? What kind of evidence do we need? In this case, we’re not talking about a single person, we’re talking about possibly convicting dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.
And so I hear about judges on both sides of the political spectrum throwing out the mass election fraud cases before they can even reach trial. You claim they’re unwilling to look at “possible evidence”, but the judicial system (especially the criminal system) does not work off of possible evidence. They look at the actual evidence provided and decide whether the case has any chance whatsoever of surviving a day in trial. Because again, the accuser has to prove guilt.
And while I suppose there’s a possibility that we’re looking at some mass conspiracy to thwart justice and undermine America’s electoral system, I find it much more likely the judges each looked at the evidence provided and found there was none.
Also, the final and probably most important lesson learned here is this: I should never be a judge.