by Michael Varela
September 2009


The legal definition (of “inference”) reads: “A deduction from the facts given, which is usually less than certain but which may be sufficient to support a finding of fact; a process of reasoning by which a fact or proposition sought to be established…is deducted as a logical consequence from other facts, or a state of facts, already proved or admitted. . .

It has also been defined as, “A deduction of an ultimate fact from other proved facts, which proved facts, by virtue of the common experience of man, will support but not compel such deductions.”

What a truly horrific word. This word is used to describe our whole life and it gets a whole lot worse and one-sided as we grow up, for some of us fall on the wrong side of society’s perception of what is right and wrong.

Stop and consider, if you will, the times you were growing up in grade school, let’s say, and you happened to be with friends, with the fat boy or fat girl – which I can personally attest to…(fat, red-headed, freckles, and glasses). And all the other kids start making fun of you? “Michael-and-such-and-such sitting in a tree/k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” This is actually the earliest and most harmless form of inference that we experience.

Maybe your experience was a bit different. Let’s run with this one. Junior high school and there is always the girl all the boys like. And yet the girl is not one to put out. She doesn’t make out in those secluded spots and so the boys decide to get even and call her names or spread rumors.

This form of “inference” is a bit uglier and becomes even more harmful because it creates for us a stigma and a false perception of who we are that can begin the forming of who we will become later in life. High school is the time of our lives that, more times than not, does direct our paths. Grow the long hair and you’re socially identified as a stoner. The nerds are in their own class and the jocks in their class. We, as individuals, gravitate toward one identifying group of another. The word, inference, is used knowingly and unknowingly all the time during each stage of life.

Then, as adults, we are either social misfits or conformists. Yes, inference rules these groups but on a much larger scale. The “misfits”, for whatever reasons, are called losers, dirtbags, whores, thieves, and whole myriad of titles that are true or not.

To fully understand the social inference system, all one needs to do is look at the history. Whoever was in charge made the rules that were then the societal standard. There isn’t any room for two sets of ideologies. So, because of this, when the term “inference” is used, its application is governed by society.

The kid who does well in school and yet has an inordinate amount of friends that are considered stoners, losers, or bad kids must then suffer the inference that he, too, is bad. Most brutal of all are the young women of our society that fumble about, trying to find that niche in life. Regrettably, girls or women, in general, are forced to endure the stigma of inference in a more socially-grouped standard. The standards of decency and general goodness for women and young girls are almost always held to be higher than that for men and young boys.

The arguments as to why this is so are too many and too involved to me to explore here, and so each of us must therefore take time to give thought to this and thus come to one’s own conclusion.

Which now brings me to the reason I am even discussing this “draconian term.” I’m currently litigating a case in the criminal courts and the results will be either the loss of 17 years of freedom, or as good as time served, or free.

My case isn’t simple. The gist of the matter is that the police lied on their report and, as a result, I’ve subsequently been denied my fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and 14th constitutional amendment rights. While in court during a resolution hearing, the judge attempted to persuade me to accept a plea bargain which was being offered by the prosecution. The judge, in his total, societal, preconceived notions, made it plain that the odds were against me and that the evidence, even if circumstantial, was against me.

I stated to the judge that, without the police reporter lying on the report, the prosecution has no factual basis for the charge of sales against me – if the courts were to follow the letter of the law and litigate the case accordingly.

The judge then explained to me how the officer, as an upstanding citizen and upholder of the law, would be believed before someone in my situation. And that, due to my past, any “normal” person would make “inferences” to the confusion of my guilt.


Now, since then, I’ve given much thought over to inference. My past. My habit. My friends. My appearance, My social ties. These things have all conspired against me to cast me as a social outcast or misfit, and so I’m now put into a perpetual defensive position. Is this fair? Does not the law of the land state, “…innocent until proven guilty?” Aren’t the upholders of the law supposed to follow the letter of the law?

How is the “inference” term completely acceptable to persons such as myself, and yet some police are often not held to such standards? Here, in California, there have been several instances of misconduct. A deputy in the San Bernadino County Sherriff’s department was arrested in 2007 and charged for allegedly soliciting sexual favors from four women he detained while on duty.

Two sergeants here in the city of San Bernadino were reported by their own colleague for allegedly putting suspects on “ice” until evidence could be recovered against them. Several elected officials here have been either arrested or indicted for various, alleged criminal wrongs and the misuse of public trust.

And, there was the recent discovery and arrest of employees of the laboratory used by San Bernadino police to test and report the findings on DNA, GSR, blood, drugs, and alcohol submitted as evidence for falsely reporting facts.

These instances are just a few of the “known” wrongs committed by society’s upstanding citizens and yet the term “inference” is not allowed to be whispered in any official ears. Why, if the law enforcement community can have these known misfits, does not the term “inference” come into play?

The cop who falsified his reports has committed a grievous wrong to me. Why are his standards and my standards held in such different light? The answers to this question lie within each of us and only our will and desire to change this and other areas of life will promulgate change.

So, the next time you look at that person and put him or her into that “category,” ask yourself, “Am I making an educated decision or using ‘inference?’”