Rights of the Accused

Lately, I’ve become a little disturbed with the publicity accorded the arrests of ‘high profile’ suspects. The lastest being that dude out in Toronto accused of killing that little girl. The crime is horrific, and so the drive to arrest someone has been in high gear. And now they have. He’s a 34-year-old software developer named ‘Michael Briere’. And from now on in, whether he did it or not, he’s essentially ruined. Simply the stigma of being associated with this crime will make him most likely, unemployable, unless there’s some unimpeachable evidence proving him innocent (not simply a lack of evidence to prove him guilty), and even then, the taint will still remain.

I understand why police would give out descriptions when trying to find someone, but I don’t understand why they would release a picture of this guy, along with his name and info after already having him in custody — it seems counter-productive, as doing this will simply pollute the juror pool. I felt much the same in the Robert Pickton case out west. I’m very happy to know that the police have arrested someone. But perhaps, constitutionally, there should be a ban on reporting personal details about the accused until the trial is done. It strikes me as nearly impossible for any of these men to get a fair trial at this point, anywhere in Canada, given the screaming headlines. And remember, someone is arrested on suspicion of a crime. They’re not guilty until proven so, during the course of a fair trial, in a court of law. With the way things are going, how long until some brutul murder gets off on a technicality related to the unfairness of his or her trial, because of media coverage, or polluted juror pool or what-have-you?