How-To about jury deliberations that do not convict the defendant

Image result for not guilty meme

“Jury Myths” is an op-ed by a defense attorney on popular definition misconceptions regarding legal procedural and factual differences;  he compares ‘innocence’ versus ‘not guilty’ versus ‘guilty’ outcomes at criminal trials.

It boils down to  ‘actual innocence’  being a product of defense efforts. That’s obvious, of course. But, this determination can occur years is after the conviction. At a trial, it may be argued by the defense using  ‘exculpatory evidence’  [maybe DNA]. Of course, this implies for some reason that the prosecutor has his/her own claim that the evidence is ‘not ‘compelling’ within their theory of guilt. Hence the trial to decide who wins. Even if the jury agrees with the defense, the jury choice is merely ‘not guilty.’ Not ‘innocence.’ That’s what the defendant’s trial attorney says afterwards on the courthouse steps. You can apply all this to Steven Avery’s attorneys’ statements in the “Making a Murder” media claims.

From ‘The Secret Barrister’ blog, The nexus of this is the Chad Evan’s trial in the UK.

[excerpt: Note that there are 9 more ‘myths.’

1. So Ched Evans has been proved innocent, right?

Wrong. You’d be forgiven for thinking this, given that it was in the prepared statement read out by his solicitor, but Ched Evans has not “demonstrated his innocence”. That is not how our criminal justice system operates. It is not a means by which the truth of a situation or event is conclusively and fully determined. Rather the jury are asked one simple question – are you sure that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt (or, as juries are commonly instructed, so that you are sure)? “Not guilty” means just that. The jury were not sure that he was guilty. They may have decided that he was totally, utterly innocent, but we don’t know. All we know is that they considered the evidence, and were less than sure of his guilt. As I tell juries in every closing speech – if you think the defendant probably did it, he’s still not guilty. 

 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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