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The Fifth Amendment Protects the Innocent

People are having too much fun mocking former President Donald Trump for utilizing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Worse, some lawyers claim that no innocent person would ever take the Fifth.

I know from experience just how awful this legal advice is. The Fifth Amendment protects the innocent, as the many exonerees who were wrongfully convicted because of police misconduct during interogations can attest.

While I subscribe to Craig Calcaterra’s Cup of Coffee Substack mostly for baseball analysis, he’s also quite smart about politics and things in our culture. His response about the Fifth Amendment was spot-on:

But it’s still a profoundly wrong, profoundly stupid, and profoundly harmful thing to say. The “you don’t remain silent or invoke the Fifth unless you’re guilty” thing has been used against the powerless by the powerful for a very long time and it’s the sort of thing that, at best, causes otherwise good people’s — and innocent people’s — reputations to be ruined. At worse it pressures people into speaking to law enforcement or prosecutors when it’s against their best interests to do so. It’s no better to say such things simply because the target is a bonafide piece of crap.

Craig Calcaterra, Cup of Coffee, August 11, 2022

This dynamic is one of the reasons I support California’s AB 2644, a bill “that would, commencing January 1, 2024, prohibit law enforcement officers from employing threats, physical harm, deception, or psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics, as specified, during an a custodial interrogation of a person 17 years of age or younger.”

I think the police should never be allowed to use those tactics, but at a minimum they should be prohibited with children.

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