- - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What in the world is the Baltimore Ravens management, let alone the NFL, doing in the middle of a possible criminal case of wife abuse?

In America, we have a law enforcement system which takes care of suspected criminal behavior and a justice system which holds that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Why is it, all of a sudden, that employers are being called upon by the press and a vocal segment of public opinion to pre-empt both the police and the courts? Does this mean that we have given up on our legal procedures to achieve justice for American citizens? Are we now putting employers in charge of investigations, judgment and punishment? Without even the semblance of a fair trial?

If that is what is happening, then woe to American citizens. Under this logic, every employee in the country has waived habeas corpus and the right to a trial by his or her peers in favor of determination of guilt and punishment by the company he or she works for, aided, of course, by the press which loves nothing better than a hanging.

If anyone thinks that juries or judges are biased and unfair, just wait until employers take over the justice system in America. At least verdicts of judges and juries can be overturned on appeal. But who can give Ray Rice back his life now that his employers have taken everything away from him? Even though there is not even a legal complaint against him by the object of his wrath, namely his now-wife, who has married him since the incident?

I have had employees who have gotten into trouble with domestic abuse of spouses and children. When the allegations became common knowledge in the company, those individuals experienced scorn and loss of friends and status from their fellow employees. But it never occurred to me, as their employer, that I somehow had the responsibility to investigate the incident, determine whether the allegations were true or false, and then to punish or not depending on what my “investigations” turned up.

All of these activities are the purview of the police and the courts. It certainly was not up to me to decide who is worthy of persecution. For one thing, I had too much else to do. But the much larger issue is that such an arrogant and fallible procedure is a direct violation of the Fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Neither I, nor my management group, nor the American press, nor anyone else can provide due process of law. That is the sole prerogative of legally constituted government authorities. It is not the job of the Ravens or Roger Goodell or the National Football League, nor any other unauthorized entity.

Mr. Goodell admits that he made a mistake. Unfortunately, he is not talking about his real mistake – getting directly involved in the first place. The NFL, like everyone else, must wait for the legal process to reach its own conclusions. In the meantime, the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

I understand that the NFL – and the NBA, MLB and the NHL – all have their brand to worry about. It would not do at all if the paying public began to think of their favorite sports teams as composed of a bunch of wife beaters and child abusers. But there is little chance of that. If these companies want to support breast cancer, domestic violence training or any other worthy cause, let them by all means do so.

But stay out of their employees’ personal lives! (Players union, are you listening?)

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