Kiwi Polemicist

March 10, 2009

• Are we innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

MandM have put up a post, saying

MandM have just one thing to say on the David Bain trial:

Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Do not expect any commentary or speculation on the trial at MandM until the verdict is in.

I do not intend to criticise MandM in any way, but I do intend to show you that the common aphorism “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” is bunkum that falsely makes the state a moral codifier¹. Here we go:

1) Guilt or innocence is not decided by a court. If I turn up at your house today and kill you without just cause (e.g. self defence) I am guilty of murder, even if I am never “proven” guilty in a court of law. Conversely, if I leave your house after a pleasant exchange and you’re murdered an hour later by someone else I may well be “proven” guilty of murder in a court of law, but I will always be innocent of murder. I will have experienced the truth of the fact that…

2) It is possible to be both innocent and “proven” guilty in a court of law. Just ask Arthur Allan Thomas. Let’s look at another example: imagine that the state passed a law requiring everyone to rape their children daily. Presumably you would refuse to do so, and the vast majority of the population would consider you to be innocent of any crime. Yet you could be prosecuted by the state and “proven” guilty of the crime of not raping your children daily, while remaining innocent. More controversially, you might smack your child today and be “proven” guilty of assaulting that child, yet I and more than 80% of the population would consider you to be innocent².

It is sometimes true that we are “Innocent in the eyes of the state until proven guilty in a court of law”³, but that is something entirely different to “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”. Our innocence or guilt is entirely independent of the state’s declarations.

What is your response to what I have written? Has this given you a new perspective on guilt and innocence?


1. The idea that the state should be a moral codifier (the person or body which decides what is moral and what is immoral) is based upon the false belief that it is necessary for the state to maintain social order. Also, remember that the state uses laws, police, courts and prisons to impose it’s will upon the population: click here for an example.

2. I am referring to a smack that is along the lines of a swat on the rump steak. At least 83% of the population were opposed to the anti-smacking law, but I expect that number to decline over time as state propaganda and persecution gain ground. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest Sue Bradford and her cabal.

3. Theoretically it is always true, but the state often does treat people as guilty before they are “proven” guilty: have a look at these examples, particularly #15 and #20.




  1. We made the statement in was in response to people googling our site, emailing and asking us for our blow by blow opinion on the development of the case and likely verdict.

    It is not the place of anyone outside the court to make such speculations. We wanted to clearly state that we would not be participating in trial by blogosphere.

    As for your statement.

    First, whilst it can be interpreted a number of ways it should have been clear from both the context and who Matt and I are and our backgrounds that we meant it in terms of the legal maxim; that it is for the court to decide and weigh the evidence and not us.

    Furhter, whilst some people might subscribe to various ideas about what and why the state has authority ours is based on Romans.

    Comment by Madeleine — March 10, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

    • Madeleine: I should have made myself clearer. I wasn’t so much responding to your post as using it as a jumping off point. My sole intention was to examine a fallacious aphorism.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — March 10, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

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