Criminal defense lawyers beware: if Bob Costas pops up in your jury panel, you’ll need to find some way to strike him.
Last night Barry Bonds hit home run number 756, breaking Hank Aaron’s all time record. This morning Bob Costas appeared on the Today show, commenting on the mental asterisk that many baseball fans (at least outside of San Francisco) attach to the achievement, due to the overwhelming amount of press coverage over the past few years about the ‘Steroid Era’ in baseball.
Matt Lauer: …you have bristled at the idea that [Bonds] is innocent until proven guilty.
Bob Costas: Well, this ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is an insufferable platitude that is masquerading as high mindedness as if those of us who don’t somehow withhold all judgment need a remedial course in civics…
Costas then points out that the debate about Barry Bonds’ home record is not playing out in a criminal jury trial setting, and that different standards apply to real life.
This is a legitimate distinction. Two guys at the local bar discussing Babe Ruth vs. Roger Maris need not limit themselves to rules of evidence and criminal procedure to make their points. Life and liberty are not at stake in the debate.
Still, Costas’ description of the vital legal concept shows such disdain for the notion it makes me cringe. I’ve written before about the real life concept known as the presumption of guilt. I may track what the blogosphere’s reaction is to the record over the next few days, and report back on what I find.