Welcome to The Charge. The word “charge” has many definitions: it is the offense criminal defendants face, the instruction given to the jury, a quantity of electricity, the imposition of a specific task, an attack, and the cost for an item. It implies energy, excitement, and explosiveness but also heavy responsibility. This blog will charge you to think, to evaluate, to question, and to charge back.
We call it a practice of law in part because this career is itself a process of growth and change; dependent on the past but striving toward the future, criminal law in particular balances the liberties envisioned by the Framers with the demands of communities unwilling to be anything but “tough on crime”. Our criminal justice system is as challenged, or more challenged, as any other part of our society. Despite an elegant foundation, it is crumbling under the excess weight we have, collectively, piled on it.
Crime is scary. So scary, in fact, that we distance ourselves not only from the acts we fear but from the people accused, whether guilty or innocent, of committing them. It is easier to be afraid than courageous.
It is not a stretch to proclaim that every jail and prison in the country houses someone who was wrongly convicted. But, this not about innocence; it is about the presumption of innocence. Our system of criminal justice is designed to accuse and then provide safeguards to those accused in order to be confident that the people who are convicted have been convicted fairly.
The Charge invites you to embark on a journey fraught with danger and excitement, heroes and villains, twists and turns, and puzzling clues to troubling questions that have no easy answers.