Alan Dershowitz: ‘Exoneration Is For God and Historians,’ Not Robert Mueller

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz penned an opinion piece for Fox News on Friday which sternly denigrated Robert Mueller’s decision to employ the term “exonerate” during his Wednesday testimony and in his Russia Report.

Specifically, Dershowitz is referring to the line in the Mueller report that reads “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

According to Dershowitz, who is one of the most prominent legal scholars in the nation, introducing the notion of not-exoneration into American legal system could prove disastrous in the long term.

“Exoneration is not the job of our legal system. Mueller’s attempt to introduce it is an extraordinary and dangerous innovation that would endanger the presumption of innocence we all have under the law,” Dershowitz wrote. “There is a grave and frightening danger in introducing the concept of exoneration into our legal system. It suggests that a person may still be presumed guilty even if the decision was made not to prosecute him or her, or even if a jury rendered a verdict of not guilty.”

Dershowitz went so far as to argue that even in the context of a full criminal trial, an accused person could never be truly exonerated or not-exonerated, because evidentiary rules prohibit certain types of evidence from being presented to fact-finders, thereby depriving them of the truth in its entirety.

In Dershowitz’s opinion, Mueller’s conception of not-exoneration would render the American legal system, which functions on a strictly bifurcated “guilty” or “not guilty” approach, inoperable by inserting a third choice.

“Exoneration is for God, historians and other non-legal institutions that have access to the totality of information,” Dershowitz warned. “By introducing the concept of ‘not exonerated’ the special counsel exceeded his own powers and even those of the Justice Department.”

Dershowitz concluded his piece with an appeal that the term be forever scrubbed from the legal system.

“So, let’s redact the words ‘exonerate’ and ‘exonerated’ from the Mueller report, from the vocabulary of prosecutors and from our legal system. These words set an absurd standard that wrongly casts a shadow of suspicion over people who are not charged with crimes or found not guilty after a trial,” he said.

[image via ABC News screengrab]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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