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Why Presumption Of Innocence Matters With The Clint Lorance Case

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Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted of murder for the death of two Afghans who were murdered by a platoon he lead. Many of Lorance's supporters believe that the lieutenant was prosecuted as part of a miscarriage of justice and that he was simply doing whatever he could to keep his fellow soldiers safe. Defenders have described the deaths as combat related shootings rather than murders. Some have also argued that Lorance was the victim of propositional misconduct. There are several reasons why you should be concerned about the case.

The Importance of the Presumption of Innocence

One of the cornerstones of criminal law is the presumption of innocence. This is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution. Citizens are normally expected to be afforded the right to liberty and the government can only deprive a citizen of his or her liberty if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Understanding Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable doubt does not mean that there can't be any doubt that the individual is innocent. Rather, the established facts of the case should lead the court to logically conclude that the individual is guilty of charges against him or her. 

Why the Case Should Be Reconsidered

It's important to not only prove that the defendant committed a crime, but also that the crime was committed willfully or in a negligent manner. In the case of Lorance, he would either need to have deliberately murdered in cold blood or his decisions would have needed to be considered negligent when compared to more reasonable actions.

On the battlefield, it's never clear if an individual is a suicide bomber, an enemy soldier in disguise or individuals who are conducting surveillance for a future attack. For that reason, those that support Clint Lorance have made the argument  that he should be pardoned by President Donald Trump. There was also an attempt to have Lorance pardoned by Obama, which failed. 

Lorance and Reasonable Doubt

In the case of Lorance, the legal system should consider the fact that it is reasonable to doubt that the murders were committed in cold blood, rather than being committed with the safety of the soldiers in mind. When another individual is convicted when there is a reasonable doubt that he or she is innocent, this places everyone at risk of being convicted of crimes they have not committed. The high standard of proof is necessary for avoiding wrongful convictions.