Obviously, some people love to believe that officials in highly visible positions regularly engage in misconduct, when they are bound by certain rules and follow those rules. In every criminal case, a defendant is entitled to have the State prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before he is convicted. This applies regardless of the seriousness of the offense or the public outcry that may occur as a result of that verdict that does not make sense to those who are not familiar with the law.
Mr. Holden exercised his right to have the State prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Although some seem concerned about the contents of a police report, most are not aware that the entire report is not admissible into evidence nor was it admitted into evidence at trial. The fact that Mr. Holden had previously appeared driving convictions was similarly not admissible under the North Carolina rules of evidence, and the court was properly not privy to that information.
If the State were to rely on the theory that Mr. Holden had consumed controlled substances that affected him, the State would be required to present evidence as to the effects of any controlled substance which they contended Mr. Holden had consumed. The State did not do so. The only evidence before the court was Mr. Holden's physical condition, which were affected by the fact that he has a damaged knee that affects his ability to walk. He also suffers from other health problems that affect his physical faculties. His blood-alcohol concentration was less than the legal limit.
The court, because of the lack of evidence, found Mr. Holden not guilty. In doing so, the court was granting Mr. Holden his constitutional right and constitutional right of every citizen to have the State prove his guilt of a criminal offense before he is convicted.
In entering his verdict, Judge Carroll made an appropriate decision, probably knowing of the public criticism that could result. For him to make such a decision based on the facts and the law, rather than being swayed by the risk of criticism is highly indicative of his character and his fitness for his office. It is so easy to second-guess a judge and criticize him when you do not have the opportunity to see the evidence that he saw, and you do not understand the requirements of the law.
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