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63 Jurist 106 (2003)
Innocent until Proven Guilty: The Origins of a Legal Maxim

handle is hein.journals/juristcu63 and id is 112 raw text is: THE JURIST 63 (2003) 106-124

The maxim,' Innocent until proven guilty', has had a good run in the
twentieth century. The United Nations incorporated the principle in its
Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 under article eleven, section one.
The maxim also found a place in the European Convention for the Pro-
tection of Human Rights in 1953 [as article 6, section 2] and was incor-
porated into the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Po-
litical Rights [as article 14, section 2]. This was a satisfying development
for Americans because there are few maxims that have a greater resonance
in Anglo-American, common law jurisprudence. The Anglo-American
reverence for the maxim does pose an interesting conundrum: it cannot be
found in the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Decla-
ration of Independence, or in the Constitution of the United States; and
not, I might add, in the works of the great English jurists, Bracton, Coke,
and Blackstone. Nevertheless, some scholars have claimed that the
maxim has been firmly embedded in English jurisprudence since the ear-
liest times.
Claims about the maxim's Anglo-Saxon roots are sometimes quite
stirring and display a peculiarly British capacity to create intellectual
Camelots-on their side of the Channel. An English scholar named
Clementi gave a talk on the maxim at Gbttingen, Germany in 1974.1 He
informed his continental audience about the maxim's unique Anglo-
Saxon origins. The English devotion to the principle of 'Innocent until
proven guilty' served, he said, to emphasize a separation between Eng-
land and its European mainland in matters of law. With a missionary's
zeal, Clementi propounded the virtues of innocence while being guilty of
explicating texts in which the maxim was completely absent.
* The Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History, The Catholic Uni-
versity of America.
This article initially appeared in: A Ennio Cortese, ed. Domenico Maffei, Italo
Birocchi, Mario Caravale, Emanuele Conte and Ugo Petronio. 3 vols. (Rome: I1 Cigno
Edizioni, 2001) 3:59-73.
1 D. Clementi, The Anglo-Saxon Origins of the Principle 'Innocent until Proven
Guilty', Herrschaftsvertrge, Wahlkapitulationen, Fundamentalgesetze (Gottingen:
1977) 68-76 at 69.

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