Re: This=That

Subject: Re: This=That
From: Tom Little <LITTLE_TOM_H -at- OFVAX -dot- LANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 10:14:00 MDT

Beverly Parks writes:

> If one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and then in
> trial found to be not guilty, doesn't that make "not guilty"
> equal to "innocent"? At what point did the person's status
> change from "presumed innocent" to "not guilty." Why is there a
> distinction?

Bev, as I understand it, the distinction is based on how our legal system works:
the burden of proof is on the prosecution. They must prove that the accused is
guilty. If they don't, then the verdict is "not guilty" (i.e., not proven
guilty). The court doesn't need to determine the person's innocence. Consider
the O.J. Simpson trial: If, after hearing all the evidence, the jury believes
that he might have committed the crime, but are not certain that he did, they
would find him not guilty. They wouldn't find him innocent because they wouldn't
be convinced that he _didn't_ do it; they would just have doubt.

There's a BIG gray area between guilty and innocent: "not guilty" includes the
middle ground, "innocent" excludes it.

As for "presumed innocent," I think that's a colloquial shorthand for the same
idea, that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. It's just easier to say
than "presumed not guilty," which is more accurate.

Tom Tadfor Little | This
Technical Writer/Editor | space
Los Alamos National Laboratory | for
little_tom_h -at- ofvax -dot- lanl -dot- gov | rent

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