Thursday, August 22, 2019
Over at First Things, George Weigel has these comments about the recent (split) decision affirming the sex-abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell. I realize there are those who claim that skepticism about the fairness of the proceedings against Cardinal Pell simply reflects ideological or ecclesiological agreement with him, but this claim is misplaced. As a former criminal-defense lawyer, and as one who has been teaching Criminal Law for 20 years, I am committed, across the board, to the deeply rooted and foundationally important rule that imposes an exceptionally demanding burden of proof on the government before a criminal conviction. I do not believe that burden was met here, or that any reasonable, unbiased factfinder could have concluded that it was. That "something might have happened" or even that "something probably happened" (and, to be clear, I am not saying I believe that either of these is the case here) is not, and should not be, enough, in the criminal context.