Federal tax dollars are going to fund a “Start By Believing Day” on April 3, 2019. While this may sound laudable, what would you think if you were a victim of a crime and the investigator would “Start By Believing” the suspect? This is why I wrote this:
I read that the Justice Department supports a campaign entitled, “Start By Believing.” This may be an appropriate notion for a support group, maybe even for a mental health professional, but it has no place in matters of justice. For members in the judiciary system, the byword should be “Start By Listening” – and listen to both sides.
The ancient Romans used to say, “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat.” In legal matters this means the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on the one who denies. In America, we call it the presumption of innocence.
One of the things that makes this country great is the legal principle that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.
It is as preposterous for an investigator to start by believing the accuser as it is for one to start by believing the accused. Law enforcement should be equally concerned in the prosecution of the wrong-doer as in the defense of the innocent. Ethical investigators should conduct their research honestly, impartially, and without bias.
Last year, an office in the Department of Justice awarded a $400,000 grant to expand the “Start By Believing” campaign. Almost $9 million, most of it from the Department of Justice, has been donated to “Start By Believing” and related programs. Some of this money will fund a “celebrate” Start By Believing Day on the first Wednesday in April.
This is more than just money wasted. This sort of funding is directly opposed to the principle of fairness. Those tax dollars are going towards an idea that is contradictory to the notion of due process. The concept of “Start By Believing” is completely incompatible to the presumption of innocence.
I ask the Attorney General and all people of logic and reason to suspend funding for the “Start By Believing” campaign.