Why do people think due process is a bad thing?

I listen to talk radio on my morning drive in to work. The format is such that often an easy topic is discussed that will result in heated call-ins, with the predictable extremes of opinion being expressed. That may be the reason why I am straying as of late to the AM 820 comedy station for a change of pace.

Recent topics on the AM talk radio channels have been the unfortunate Sammy Yatim shooting and the suspension of Alex Rodrigues of the Yankees for his (alleged) blood doping transgressions.

What strikes me as disturbing when topics such as these come up is the “hang ‘em high” vigilante views that always make their way onto the airwaves. Guilt is presumed, evidence gathering and proper investigations are for fools, proceed to conviction and punishment and rights of appeal are an abuse. I am also seeing this in the comments sections of online newspapers.

There will be the usual trolls who express extreme views on guilt just to agitate. But there are those who genuinely believe that due process is a waste of time and designed solely to line the pockets of lawyers and judges. And it is those latter individuals who frustrate me. They are the ones who often refer to Shakespeare’s reference in Henry VI to “kill all of the lawyers” as they justify their position (not understanding, of course, that the reference is actually what to do first if planning a political coup – that is, eliminate the rule of law).

We need not look hard in this world for examples were the rule of law is non-existent. Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia. How many of us would pack up the family and move there? None. Yet, the idea of disregarding due process in the law gains a foothold here in North America, as if our rights as citizens should be at the whim of a dictator. For any breach of the law (civil or criminal), investigations must be conducted, the evidence gathered, matters are settled and a trial held if they are not with a verdict rendered as appropriate. Appeals are heard and judged on their merits.

It is not a perfect system (and the expansion of the domain of Human Rights Tribunals is a good example of an area that desperately needs reform). But the rule of law remains in place. It protects our freedoms and allows us to claim our just debts – remove it and we have anarchy.

Paul H. Voorn