<< Saunders on Prop 34 | Main | SCOTUS Releasing Orders Lists Earlier >>

All You Need to Know About the Reginald Clemons Case

The Guardian (London) has this video of the Reginald Clemons hearing in St. Louis. At 2:56 in the video, there is this:

Q: Did you rape both girls or only one girl?
A: Under the advice of counsel, I plead the Fifth.
What else does anyone need to know?  There are three possible answers to this simple question:  one, both, or neither.  An innocent man would have answered "neither," and the answer would not incriminate him.  Clemons's assertion that the answer would tend to incriminate him means that the answer is either "both" or "one," and therefore he is guilty.  Q.E.D.

The trial judge advises Clemons that he will take this inference into account.  Good for him.

We used to allow juries to make these kinds of inferences in criminal trials in California and some other states until Griffin v. California, 380 U.S. 609 (1965), a 5-1-2 decision with the opinion written by Justice Douglas.  Justice Harlan reluctantly concurred because, and only because, he felt bound by precedent.  Justices Stewart and White dissented.  Whether Griffin should be overruled or not, it should not be extended.  In a last-ditch effort to overturn an affirmed conviction and sentence, the defendant should not be allowed to hide behind any privileges.  He should be required to put all his cards face-up on the table, and any attempt to hide anything should be considered for all its logical implications.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives