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The reason we have civil liberties and due process...

Published in the Herald-Times, July 10, 2013.

To The Editor:

It is a common theme in Herald-Times comments that someone who has "lawyered up" must have something to hide, or must be guilty of a crime. Do the people saying these things (usually anonymously) realize that we have due process and civil liberties for a reason?

Consider the Central Park Five, minority youths who were convicted in the shockingly brutal beating of a jogger. They did not commit the crime, but spent years in prison anyway. This was a double injustice because innocent people were punished while the guilty man was not.

Consider the case of Christopher Clugston, who spent 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The injustice of his prison sentence was made exponentially worse when he was gang-raped and infected with AIDS.

Consider the case of the Duke "University" lacrosse team. They were the victims of a witch hunt by disgraced, disbarred ex-prosecutor Mike Nifong, who withheld DNA evidence that proved they did not "rape" Crystal Mangum. In fact, no "rape" took place, as Mangum fabricated the incident.

If those men were poor and black, they would likely be in prison today. Thankfully, they had the financial resources to fight a corrupt system.

Scott Tibbs.