In our heart of hearts, we want to believe that an innocent man has no need of savvy legal counsel. A guilty man needs to learn the law and his case forwards and backwards in order to find every loophole and technicality he needs to prevail, whereas an innocent man needs merely to know, “the truth will set you free.” As appealing as this sounds, it doesn’t represent the world we live in. Often times the truth is undocumented and unprovable, and hence ultimately unknowable. Because of this, as a society, we construct things like hearings and trials, so that we have a process in place to try to get us as close as we can to finding the unfindable and ascertaining the uncertain. By its very nature, this process is often messy and unsatisfying, because it reflects the limitations of what we’re able to learn. As such, there is still a vast amount we don’t know about the events that led to Ryan Braun’s positive test, but there are a few things we do know:
Number one, we know that the only person in the world who knows if he’s innocent is Ryan Braun himself. To make a very subjective statement, there is nothing in how he has conducted himself that, to my eyes, contradicts how an innocent man would act. No matter whether or not you believe him, suppose for a second that he has been completely honest, and this positive test has occurred for reasons he cannot fathom. Even if it’s the truth, it is literally impossible for him to prove that he has never taken a banned substance. All he can do is point to an irregularity with the testing procedure, and maintain his innocence and ignorance of how this could have happened, as he has done. Unfortunately, this is also how a guilty man who’s a good actor would act, as well, so there is not much we can learn from Braun’s actions.
Number two, either something happened to Braun’s sample between when it was collected and when it was tested that tainted it and falsely caused it to come up positive, or Ryan Braun is a remarkably brazen con man, who first managed to convince the entire Brewers organization of his impeccable character then convincingly and passionately plead his innocence on national television. Both of these things seem implausible to me, yet one of them must be true.
Finally, no matter how much I or anyone reading this have read about the testing procedure, the jointly agreed upon rules, and the chain of custody of Braun’s sample in the past day and a half, we don’t know as much about those things as Shyam Das does, and he believes Braun’s guilt cannot be established.
It is something of a cliché to note that a court cannot declare someone innocent, merely not guilty, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Our knowledge of the truth is always frustratingly, disappointingly limited, and this case is no exception. After months of waiting, there is still so much we don’t know about what happened last October in Milwaukee and Montreal. We do know, however, that the people with the access to the most information do not believe the evidence upholds Ryan Braun’s guilt. However, as of right now, it does not appear they believe the evidence suggests much of anything else, either.