Outrage Motivated by Political Correctness
Don’t get us wrong, we abhor domestic violence. As criminal defence lawyers, we have represented numerous clients charged with assault. Including assaults committed against the accused’s spouse, common-law, significant other, or child. The clients, mostly men, who have been convicted (or who have pleaded guilty) have serious anger issues that require counseling. The victims must be protected from their abusers. This doesn’t mean that the public, or the NFL, should, after viewing the shocking video of Rice punching his wife, automatically call for the suspension of Ray Rice for the assault on his wife.
Ray Rice deserves a fair hearing
Ray Rice deserves a fair hearing to determine what penalty/suspension should be meted out to him. We can’t look to the Court of Public Opinion to try and convict him. Simply put: There are a lot of very successful people who have lead less than stellar personal lives, but have not been forced out of their chosen profession for bad behaviour. Some even have criminal records. Some are convicted murderers. Don King, the famous boxing promoter served over four years in prison for the second-degree murder of Sam Garrett. What about Chris Brown? How many CDs has he sold since being convicted of assaulting Rhianna? Lots! Is any fair-minded person calling for a boycott of Woody Allen movies because of the allegations he dated, etc. underage girls? They say Ty Cobb was a son-of-a-bitch, and a racist to boot. Is anyone calling for the removal of his achievements from the MLB record books? The NFL is, of course, justified in suspending Ray Rice if his behaviour off-the-field violates the leagues ethical standards, however, Ray Rice is still allowed a hearing on the matter. The hearing should address what he has done to deal with his anger and abuse that he has directed toward his wife.
Caving to Media Pressure?
In criminal law, a judge must consider the personal circumstances of a convicted accused before imposing a sentence. When representing a client at a sentencing hearing, we, at The Criminal Law Team, ensure that the judge is aware of our client’s positive prospects for rehabilitation. In Ray Rice’s situation, we would present evidence of his family background- perhaps he grew up in an abusive home; perhaps he was abused himself. But, more importantly, what has Ray Rice done to ensure the court (or the NFL’s disciplinary panel) that he is receiving counseling that might prevent future assaultive behaviour? Has the commissioner, or the NFL’s disciplinary board, taken any of these factors into consideration, or are they simply caving into media pressure for a swift and heavy punishment?
Everyone Deserves Due Process
As criminal defence lawyers we strongly believe, and fight for, the right of everyone to be judged fairly. This includes alleged or convicted wife beaters, murderers, and anyone else charged with a criminal offence. We also believe that most everyone can be rehabilitated- can learn from their mistakes. Let’s try not to judge Ray Rice solely on the basis of the damning video, and insist that some form of due process exists in his case (and in every case of wrongdoing) to allow for a fair hearing before an unbiased tribunal. The Court of Public Opinion is a fickle one- it wants to condemn Ray Rice, however, it also chooses to ignore the transgressions of Chris Brown and the like.