View Poll Results: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

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  • Yes, "innocent" would be a welcome addition as an option.

    11 28.95%
  • No, but we should treat "not guilty" as "innocent".

    7 18.42%
  • No, the current system works fine. ('Splain yerself, Lucy)

    18 47.37%
  • Something else.

    2 5.26%
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Thread: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

  1. #91
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray410 View Post
    The rare exception is by virtue of widespread, knowledgeable public opinion in some cases, such as OJ Simpson.

    It's offensive that the Liberals are doing their best to give the impression that the wrong verdict was reached in the George Zimmerman trial, the impression that Zimmerman is actually guilty and something went terribly wrong. He started out innocent and he walked out of court innocent of all charges.
    What does "widespread, knowledgeable public opinion" have to do with the guilt or innocence of a defendant found not guilty at the conclusion of a trial?

    I never can understand this idea that the "Court of Public Opinion" (i.e. the Peanut Gallery) has some magical ability to discern actual truth from facts that is lacking in the members of a jury. Especially since, unlike most juries, the Peanut Gallery is a part-time audience constantly barraged by allegations, accusations, commentary, opinions, speculations, and emotional B/S from whichever media outlet it prefers to watch...in between favorite programs and other leisure activities.

    A jury deals only with actual evidence with the duty to detemine facts leading to their truly "informed" final decision. You many not agree with the final decision, but you are certainly not more "knowledgeable" about the case than they are. It should be equally offensive when whoever disagreed with the OJ case thinks they know more than the jury who made the final decision. Civil suit notwithstanding due to the low level of proof required in one.

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    "Not guilty" would remain pretty much as it is now... the defendant may be guilty, but the burden of proof was not established.

    "Innocent" would be something like... not only has the burden of proof not been established, but we believe this case is ridiculous and don't buy the charges/accusations at all, hence "innocent".
    Really? So what happens a few years down the road when evidence is uncovered which shows the defendant DID commit the crime? Or maybe he goes out and tries to profit by writing a tell-all book admitting his guilt? The bottom line is that absent incontrovertible evidence of innocence (video showing what happened, iron clad alibi showing defendant was never present) there really is no way to prove absolute innocence. A jury's "belief" does not make it a fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    You'd never be able to fix people's individual opinions and biases. The purpose would be to clean up some of the additional legal ramifications and spare some people who are indeed factually innocent from facing never-ending financial ruin from constantly having to spend every spare cent in court.
    While it does happen from time to time (like the boys soccer team rape case) the state doesn't often prosecute with little or no evidence of wrongdoing identifying the defendant as the probable actor. If there is clear evidence to the contrary (video, plane ticket and hotel bill from out of state), they won't prosecute. There has to be a question of guilt, which means all that can be done is to try to resolve THAT question...Guilty or NOT Guilty. Trying to determine innocence would require shifting the burden to the defendant, who is now responsible for proving a negative (I did not do it). Absent incontrovertible evidence, that is impossible to prove.

    Quote Originally Posted by TurtleDude View Post
    one of the biggest problems we have in this country is lawyers pretending that only they can understand what are mostly pretty plain and obvious foundations of our system of laws
    HEY!!! I resemble that remark! LOL
    Last edited by Captain Adverse; 07-24-13 at 12:49 AM.
    If I stop responding it doesn't mean I've conceded the point or agree with you. It only means I've made my point and I don't mind you having the last word. Please wait a few minutes before "quoting" me. I often correct errors for a minute or two after I post before the final product is ready.

  2. #92
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    Really? So what happens a few years down the road when evidence is uncovered which shows the defendant DID commit the crime? Or maybe he goes out and tries to profit by writing a tell-all book admitting his guilt? The bottom line is that absent incontrovertible evidence of innocence (video showing what happened, iron clad alibi showing defendant was never present) there really is no way to prove absolute innocence. A jury's "belief" does not make it a fact.
    While not overly common, we already have that. It's not unheard of for people to be convicted based solely on circumstantial evidence. The prosecution convinces a jury to believe their side with no incontrovertible evidence of guilt.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

  3. #93
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    While not overly common, we already have that. It's not unheard of for people to be convicted based solely on circumstantial evidence.
    True, but aside from the fact that this has nothing to do with your original point or my response....

    There is a whole system of appellate review that allows new evidence which comes to light later to be used to get an innocent person released. In such cases, there is also (in most states anyway) restitution paid out, although I must admit that it hardly helps after spending years trying to survive amongst hardened crimnals. If all else fails there is still the possibiity of Pardon.

    But a person found not guilty is protected from being charged with the same offense by the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment. (Note was "deleted").
    Last edited by Captain Adverse; 07-24-13 at 01:09 AM.
    If I stop responding it doesn't mean I've conceded the point or agree with you. It only means I've made my point and I don't mind you having the last word. Please wait a few minutes before "quoting" me. I often correct errors for a minute or two after I post before the final product is ready.

  4. #94
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    True, but aside from the fact that this has nothing to do with your original point or my response....
    It squarely addresses your response because it points out that decisions/verdicts are indeed sometimes made based on belief.


    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    There is a whole system of appellate review that allows new evidence which comes to light later to be used to get an innocent person released. In such cases, there is also (in most states anyway) restitution paid out, although I must admit that it hardly helps after spending years trying to survive amongst hardened crimnals. If all else fails there is still the possibiity of Pardon.
    There is all that, but I have read that the percentages of any of those working in the defendants favor are pretty slim. Appellate courts are often little more than a rubber stamp. Chances are that if you don't succeed at the original trial, you probably won't at all. Statistically.

    I don't recall which book or books I read that. They were books based on wrongful convictions, though.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

  5. #95
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    It squarely addresses your response because it points out that decisions/verdicts are indeed sometimes made based on belief.
    Actually, you would be incorrect. The Judge determines matters of law, the Jury determines matters of fact. This means that the jury sifts through all the evidence presented, determines which is factual, then makes a decision based upon that determination. Again, all they are required to do is address the question: Is the defendant Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? If there is a reasonable doubt then they are required to find the defendant Not Guilty. This does not require that they believe he is innocent, only that the facts presented allow for the possibility he is not guilty.

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    "There is all that, but I have read that the percentages of any of those working in the defendants favor are pretty slim. Appellate courts are often little more than a rubber stamp. Chances are that if you don't succeed at the original trial, you probably won't at all. Statistically.

    I don't recall which book or books I read that. They were books based on wrongful convictions, though.
    It is true that once determined guilty it is very hard to prove one's innocence. However, it is not impossible and it has happened frequently enough to both confirm the value of the process and cast doubt about the solidity of other similar cases. Recall, just because a convicted person claims innocence is no reason to accept that either...almost ALL convicted parties claim to be innocent. Real evidence will prove otherwise, even after a trial is over.
    If I stop responding it doesn't mean I've conceded the point or agree with you. It only means I've made my point and I don't mind you having the last word. Please wait a few minutes before "quoting" me. I often correct errors for a minute or two after I post before the final product is ready.

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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    Actually, you would be incorrect. The Judge determines matters of law, the Jury determines matters of fact. This means that the jury sifts through all the evidence presented, determines which is factual, then makes a decision based upon that determination. Again, all they are required to do is address the question: Is the defendant Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? If there is a reasonable doubt then they are required to find the defendant Not Guilty. This does not require that they believe he is innocent, only that the facts presented allow for the possibility he is not guilty.



    It is true that once determined guilty it is very hard to prove one's innocence. However, it is not impossible and it has happened frequently enough to both confirm the value of the process and cast doubt about the solidity of other similar cases. Recall, just because a convicted person claims innocence is no reason to accept that either...almost ALL convicted parties claim to be innocent. Real evidence will prove otherwise, even after a trial is over.
    A really interesting topic for me, because in a neighboring state there was a police officer who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and dismembering her, so as you can imagine this was a big story around here. Come to find out like 10 years later, it was found through DNA testing that he was actually innocent. I think he sued the state too. I'm not too sure because I was very young at the time. But there is a perfect example of someone being exonerated after being convicted, and a lot of years later too. Not good for him that he was convicted to begin with, but everyone thought he was guilty too.

  7. #97
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    Actually, you would be incorrect. The Judge determines matters of law, the Jury determines matters of fact. This means that the jury sifts through all the evidence presented, determines which is factual, then makes a decision based upon that determination. Again, all they are required to do is address the question: Is the defendant Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? If there is a reasonable doubt then they are required to find the defendant Not Guilty. This does not require that they believe he is innocent, only that the facts presented allow for the possibility he is not guilty.
    Keep in mind that you are stating how things are currently done. I don't dispute that. I am proposing a change to how things are done.

    Many others in the thread have made statements regarding presumption of innocence, and so on. "Innocent until proven guilty" is something that I harp on all the time, but in reality I don't believe it really exists. I believe that in practical real world application it is a myth. My concerns would have probably never even come to this point if we as both a society and a legal system actually practiced what we preach.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

  8. #98
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Three points on this issue:

    1. In your system and mine, you are deemed to be innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is not proven you are, therefore innocent.

    2. If you provide an option that goes beyond those that now exist, such as "innocent", you leave open the legal possibility that someone is formally tainted although not guilty. Far better to let people believe what they want to believe after the fact than have a jury verdict that formalizes doubt.

    3. Juries are presented with the facts as they currently exist and the facts as allowed by sometimes convoluted rules related to admissibility of evidence. No jury is capable of fully determining innocence unless they actually witnessed the event/crime. Too much of the detail is left out of the presentation before them either because it is unknown by the authorities or because it is not allowed by a judge.
    "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." William F. Buckley Jr.

  9. #99
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    Keep in mind that you are stating how things are currently done. I don't dispute that. I am proposing a change to how things are done.

    Many others in the thread have made statements regarding presumption of innocence, and so on. "Innocent until proven guilty" is something that I harp on all the time, but in reality I don't believe it really exists. I believe that in practical real world application it is a myth. My concerns would have probably never even come to this point if we as both a society and a legal system actually practiced what we preach.
    Well the difference is a person may very well be innocent, but this has nothing to do with the legal presumption requirement.

    In order to overcome the massive power of the State which is bearing down on an individual citizen with the intent to deprive him of life or liberty, our society has set up a system which gives the citizen a small fighting chance. Juries are told they MUST start their review of the facts from the position that the defendant is INNOCENT, then sift through the evidence to see if the State has proven he is Guilty. To give the Defendant even more of a chance, the jury must find Guilt beyond reasonable doubt...NOT because our system thinks the defendant is innocent, but rather because it is better to let ten guilty men go free than deprive any innocent man of his life or freedom.

    So, the jury is not trying to determine if a person is innocent, only trying to determine if the State has proven Guilt beyond a resonable doubt. The Not Guilty decision only means the state has failed, not that the defendant is actually innocent. HOWEVER, IMO we as a society should accept that presumption and give the defendant the benefit of the doubt until new evidence comes to light showing he was actually guilty the whole time. At which point, despite his being a free man, all bets are off.
    If I stop responding it doesn't mean I've conceded the point or agree with you. It only means I've made my point and I don't mind you having the last word. Please wait a few minutes before "quoting" me. I often correct errors for a minute or two after I post before the final product is ready.

  10. #100
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Adverse View Post
    Well the difference is a person may very well be innocent, but this has nothing to do with the legal presumption requirement.

    In order to overcome the massive power of the State which is bearing down on an individual citizen with the intent to deprive him of life or liberty, our society has set up a system which gives the citizen a small fighting chance. Juries are told they MUST start their review of the facts from the position that the defendant is INNOCENT, then sift through the evidence to see if the State has proven he is Guilty. To give the Defendant even more of a chance, the jury must find Guilt beyond reasonable doubt...NOT because our system thinks the defendant is innocent, but rather because it is better to let ten guilty men go free than deprive any innocent man of his life or freedom.

    So, the jury is not trying to determine if a person is innocent, only trying to determine if the State has proven Guilt beyond a resonable doubt. The decision only means the state has failed, not that the defendant is actually innocent. HOWEVER, IMO we as a society should accept that presumption and give the defendant the benefit of the doubt until new evidence comes to light showing he was actually guilty the whole time. At which point, despite his being a free man, all bets are off.
    Ok, so if the jury starts at "innocent", and never sees any evidence that is persuasive enough to sway them from "innocent", not even to the next step of "not guilty" (aka "not proven"), why shouldn't they be allowed to render such a verdict?

    (I'm going to bed, but will pick this up tomorrow.)
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

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