On Ray McDonald, Harbaugh harps on “due process” and “facts and information”


No, the 49ers won’t tolerate domestic violence.  As long, apparently, as a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that domestic violence happened.

A day after G.M. Trent Baalke suggested that the team would defer to “due process” arising from its own investigation and not from the legal system, coach Jim Harbaugh created the impression during a Wednesday press conference that McDonald will continue to play until he’s found by the court system to have committed violence against a female.

On multiple occasions, Harbaugh said that any decisions regarding McDonald will be based on “information and fact” (and “fact and information”), but he didn’t specify who would collect and decide those facts and information.  He implied more than once that the team will allow the legal process to play itself out.

“[T]his is America, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty,” Harbaugh said.  “I don’t know what more I can say about that and I have great respect for that principle.”

In other words, the 49ers will believe that McDonald didn’t do anything until the legal system concludes that he did.  Which means that he’ll potentially be able to play until his court case ends.

Asked to define what Harbaugh means by “due process,” Harbaugh again painted the picture that he’ll rely on the principles that find a person responsible only when a court of law has decided that criminal laws were broken.

“It’s in the Constitution,” Harbaugh said.  “It’s in the Constitution. It’s well defined.  The Fifth Amendment.”

Reference to the Fifth Amendment, which insulates criminal defendants against self-incrimination, means that Harbaugh will accept a refusal from McDonald to explain himself.  That’s a precedent Harbaugh needs to be ready to apply if/when a guy at the bottom of the roster is accused of doing something that he refuses to address whether he did.

Here’s the reality.  If the 49ers wanted to gather “facts and information,” Harbaugh could call McDonald into the office, close the door, and demand to know the truth.  Harbaugh surely knows people well enough to know whether McDonald is being honest.

The broader truth is that the 49ers need McDonald.  So they’ll tap the brakes, hopeful that the criminal case won’t be resolved until after the season, when they’d have a much better chance to search for a competent replacement.

44 responses to “On Ray McDonald, Harbaugh harps on “due process” and “facts and information”

  1. At least his brother John was honest when he embraced Ray Rice. Jim would rather quibble about the 5th amendment vs. avowing to the media that he would not tolerate his players abusing women.

  2. While I hate to side with a Harbaugh … domestic violence complaints are often untrue. You shouldn’t be able to simply accuse someone of something and cost them their job. Like any other charge it needs to be proven true.

  3. Sure, Harbaugh is such an astute judge of human nature, he’ll know just by talking to Ray if he is guilty of what he was charged with. Matter of fact, why don’t we just let Harbaugh make all judgements before the courts. It would be so much simpler than having to choose a jury or leaving it up to those incompetent judges who have spent their careers working in the legal profession.

  4. These guys are so screwed up.
    Do you really think nothing happened? The woman just fell down the stairs?
    We’ve become a nation of politically correct, wanna-be lawyers.
    Nobody ever gets arrested for singing too loud in church.
    I know that cops always defer to the female complainant, but how much BS are the Niners gonna eat before they stand up and straighten out this frat house atmosphere their perpetuating?
    These guys are clowns. Hairball the chief clown.

  5. Good article. Everyone is painting Harbaugh out to be some “straight talking honest Joe.” The reality is that he’s just as full of flim flam as the rest of these guys who will do anything to win.

  6. Well lets see here last yr niners made aldon miss 5 games to get alcohol treatment and what did roger do? aldon suspended 9 games!!! well lets see rice beats the crap out of his girlfriend knocks her out ! pulls her out of a elevator kicks her…2 games suspended! are u kidding me…it was on every news station….but that not as bad as suspending josh Gordon for a whole yr! id be mad if I was a browns fan…And now theres alegations that McDonald might of hit his fiancee???? Lets just see if its true…if he put his hands on her than he deserves suspended! until then SHUT UP!!!

  7. And if they suspended him today and turns out he was innocent, then what? You act like they are making up “innocent until proven guilty”

  8. Harbaugh has no credibility left. Between his childish sideline antics and his past repeated “We will not tolerates” (that only resulted in absolutely no punishment for anyone who was 2nd string or above), he has shown he is not a man to take at his word.

  9. Domestic violence is not a black and white issue.

    Just because Jim Harbaugh is allowing for “due process” in regards to McDonald doesn’t mean that he is now a hypocrite because of his previous stated stance on domestic violence. If McDonald is found to be guilty and Harbaugh doesn’t release him then we can call him a hypocrite.

  10. What makes you think Harbaugh hasn’t called him into his office? McDonald has met with team officials on numerous occasions since the incident, what do you think they’ve talked about? The weather?

  11. Heaven forbid we wait until someone is guilty before punishing him. Duke lacrosse comes to mind as to what happens when we jump to punishment before facts. The old saying is that 10 guilty men should go free than one innocent man be punished isn’t it?

  12. Actually, it’s not in the Constitution. It’s been handed down through English common law; while it is as sacred a legal principle as what you find in the Bill of Rights, you won’t actually find it in the Constitution. And even if it was, it applies only to criminal trials. An NFL team can adopt “guilty until proven otherwise,” if it wants, since it is a private employer, and does not have to provide its employees with the same rights as a criminal defendant. I know about this stuff, which is why I don’t coach an NFL team. I guess Harbaugh figures his knowledge goes beyond just the NFL.

  13. What do you want from these guys? Are you seriously suggesting that Harbaugh shouldn’t allow for due process. Yes if someone at the bottom of the roster had something similar happen to them they’d probably be cut and it may be hypocritical but that’s life and sometimes it isn’t fair.

  14. I know this…when I was divorcing my wife, we still lived together until our house sold. We fought. A lot. She called the cops on 3 separate occasions. All 3 times, the police left without doing anything. Because I never did anything. I never hit her or threatened to. She was trying to “build a case” against me for custody of our children. Without ever entering a courtroom, she finally agreed to 50% custody, which is all I ever asked for. So, I am not ready to suspend, release, or imprison Ray McDonald until I know the facts. If he did do it, the truth will come out, and he will pay. But not until the facts are revealed.

  15. Prosecutor: “This photograph shows bruising around the neck, did you make those bruises?”

    McDonald: “I plead the 5th.”

    Jim Harbaugh: “Good enough for me! Let’s get back to practice.”

  16. I believe the fifth amendment is about the due process clause, not the self-incrimination clause, but your point is taken. He would not have stepped on that land mine had he mentioned the fourteenth amendment instead…

  17. Does the name Tracey Richter ring a bell? She inflicted wounds around her neck to frame her ex husband. I’m not saying McDonald is innocent but why don’t we let the courts handle that. Players did say they broke up that night, so money could be the motive. Again I’m not saying it happened but we can’t say it didn’t. So Mike Florio if you want to live in a country where people are guilty until proven innocent, then get the hell out of the U.S.

  18. McDonald hasn’t been charged with anything, yet. He was arrested on “suspicion” of spousal abuse. The police saw what appeared to be injuries and subsequently made an arrest which by law in California is their ONLY option.
    Florio is an attorney, he should know that McDonald will be arraigned in court on 9/15 wherein he will be charged by the DA if there is enough evidence to substantiate a conviction. So all you 49er/ Harbaugh haters just keep your panties on and let “due process” take its course.

  19. I hate to break it to everyone but if you were to read an article that was just posted from the commissioner maybe you would think twice before you start pointing fingers. While I agree that domestic abuse against anyone should not be tolerated, harbaugh, York, baalke, and the president doesn’t agree with abuse either. They have to let the investigation go through. Roger said it himself, ” we need to fully investigate everything before anything can happen.”

    If he is found guilty then he should immediately be suspended. Everyone tends to take bits and pieces of an article and blow it out of proportion. And florio maybe you should find the facts before posting something. McDonald has been in the office with baalke and harbaugh multiple times.

  20. What?

    Let’s play this out as if he’s found innocent of the charges after the Niners suspend him because they *think* he did something wrong.

    Lawsuit! Niners lose lawsuit. All hell breaks loose.

    This is still a business that MUST follow the law.

  21. I think Mr. Harbaugh is a big fat hypocrite. He would start O.J. Simpson or Charlie Manson if he thought it was to his advantage. The sad part is how hard he works at being seen as a man of principle-going to Peru (with a camera crew in tow) to build houses for the poor is one thing, trotting out any number of players who had contacts with Johnny Law is something entirely different. I’d feel better about it if he’d just admit that he could care less about the character of his players as long as they deliver wins.

  22. This is the sensible approach. If McDonald is guilty, throw the book at him, suspend him, cut him, whatever.

    But in California, 50% of all DV cases are never prosecuted. Its way too easy for someone to make an accusation and if the police show up, theyre pretty much going to arrest someone. A friend of mine went to jail for DV after never even putting his hands on the women, she scratched up her own face, luckily the prosecutor didnt even bother pressing charges since she had a history of these complaints.

    Let the investigation go on, if McDonald is guilty, punish him, if he isnt, leave him alone. I am not sure what else some people expect.

  23. How do you know he hasn’t called McDonald into his office already? Ray McDonald seems like a pretty chill guy. Doesn’t seem like the “type”

  24. Should the severity of the crime bypass the collection of facts to come to a proper conclusion? Obviously not. Let the facts come out first. If a preponderance of the evidence shows he abused his wife/gf, then he will be punished by more than just the NFL/Niners. If not, then he should not be punished. You would want the same consideration if you were ever accused of a crime.

  25. Easy to point the finger at Jim.

    Without due process are you actually suggesting that Jim should tarnish his players’ reputation before he’s had his day in Court?

    I believe Jim is true to his word regarding a player who is found guilty of DV.

    But, until that decision is found to be true, both Jim and Roger are correct to afford the player his constitutional right of due process.

  26. due process for marshawn lynch was somewhere around 2 years. nobody cared or remembered after that.

  27. I don’t anything about McDonald’s court case but I personally know people who were accused of domestic violence and there were no substances behind the charges. Domestic violence is often used as vendetta on the part of the jilted party so caution is in order.

  28. Harbaugh knows his coaching job is on the chopping block, if he doesn’t win the SB this time. And it’s eatin him inside out like a cancer, knowing that Pete Carrol is making more money then him. And the fact that Pete has won a SB before first, before him.

    Harbaugh is so desperate, he is willing to turn a blind eye to the evidence showing Ray McDonald’s fiance’ shows visible marks of bruising, just so he can keep the team from missing the playoffs!!!

    Action speaks louder than words!!
    Could we be seeing Harbaugh’s true colors???

  29. so he is already compromising his stance on the “one thing” he wont compromise? got it

    these Harbaugh kids are real gems.

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