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Bruce Bialosky

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Frequently it appears the hallmark statement of our legal system has been turned on its head. It is not just that charges are made against people from which the public draws a conclusion. The person’s career is cut short before the accused has a chance to offer a proper defense, and their income is terminated.

This has been going on for a while. The Me-Too Movement really accelerated this turnaround in our legal process. A man is accused of sexual indiscretions and that is the end of him.

This is not to say that many of the actions discussed here are anything other than despicable. Many of them are heinous. Until they are proven in a court of law, or the perpetrator admits their wrongdoing, our system by structure assumes they are innocent. Not anymore. Even if they go to court and are judged innocent, they cannot recoup their lives.

A couple cases exploded on the scene recently that amplify this. Mel Tucker, the head football coach at Michigan State, was accused by a lady of having unwanted phone sex. He had his lucrative contract cancelled fairly quickly. His attorney has asked for all records to be preserved because he is going to make a counterclaim. Why anyone would engage in the behavior in question of “sexting” is beyond me. Still, is it illegal?

Russell Brand is someone who has been around for years, acted somewhat on the edge and to whom I previously never paid attention. Apparently, he recently remarried and had two daughters with his new wife. He had charges of improprieties going back years. Now that he has become a “regular guy” and changed some of his views, he has become a pariah. Some 15-year-old accusations were brought forward, and his income sources were cancelled. Guilty until proven innocent.

There is the special case of Senator Robert Menendez. If you know the facts that have been reported in the case, you can understand why someone would assume he is a despicable elected official. Nonetheless, the Senator gets to tell his story. Most of the members of his caucus and Democrat members of the House of Representatives are calling for his head (resignation). Guilty until proven innocent.

Beyond that, what about the amazing case of Congressman Jamaal Bowman. He is either too stupid to be in Congress because he does not understand the significance of a fire alarm, or he is too stupid because of his tragically lame excuses as to why he pulled the fire alarm in the middle of critical budget votes. Either way he is not guilty until proven innocent. He deserves a proper process.

Once again, we have a case in which I am forced to defend our former president, Mr. Trump. The power structure in the state of New York wants to destroy him. First it was the District Attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, who brought a case against him. Now it is the Attorney General, Leticia James, going after him. On the face it, the cases should have been thrown out as they campaigned on using the formidable power of their offices to indict Mr. Trump for just about anything.

Bragg’s lawsuit was laughed at by most everyone except the certified Trump haters. His lawsuit looks ironclad compared to James.’ The difference is hers is civil. And she took it to a judge who was elected in Manhattan that was part of the Democrat machine. He ran for two judgeships but was unopposed in each instance.

The crux of the case is that Mr. Trump overstated the value of his property on his financial statements. This is laughable and let me explain why.
First, there is really no obligation to be perfectly accurate in stating the value of a real estate investment on a financial statement nor is there a presumption that you have done such. In the case of Mr. Trump — who has been known for decades as boastful about just about everything — why would anyone presume his stated values were real? No lender would for anyone.

That is why lenders have teams of people who evaluate these things. If the lender does not want to have a formal appraisal done of properties, they have adequate comparable information from other properties to determine if the value is in the ballpark.

All that is irrelevant. No lender today has as a top priority the value of properties. They are seeking a source of repayment. If there is no cash flow to repay the loan, then there is no loan. A client not long ago had properties valued at (let’s say) about $20 million. He could not get a loan from anyone because the properties had no cashflow. He redeveloped the properties and then sold them. After the sale, he took the money and bought another property. No cash to pay back any loan. Thus, no loan.

We have sophisticated banks making evaluations on the ability of Mr. Trump to pay his loans. Where is the fraud? But it gets even worse.

Knowing all these facts the lenders wrote their contracts and made their loans to protect themselves. As Trump testified, he has never defaulted on a loan or missed a payment. In fact, Judge Arthur Engoran himself stated, “Defendants correctly assert that ‘the record is devoid of any evidence of default, breach, late payment, or any complaint of harm.” That was right before he threatened to yank Trump’s business license and shut him down. For what?

To recap: Big international banks made loans they are experienced at evaluating and the borrower has made every scheduled payment on the loans. Where is the fraud?

No one has been harmed. Once again guilty until proven innocent.
It is hard to get this genie back in the bottle. The press feels compelled to make these accusations without the requisite cautions. Just because they do doesn’t mean you have too.

You don’t need to fall for this. You can assert in your conversations, whomever is charged is innocent until proven guilty. It has a nice sound to it.