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View Diary: A (Liberal) Criminal Defense Attorney's View of the Zimmerman Verdict (51 comments)

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  •  Burden of Proof Shift (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, kevin k, NYFM, Victor Ward

    If the law required the person using deadly force (the Killer) to justify that he acted lawfully--which I believe was the rule at least thirty years ago--rather than placing it on the State to prove that the Killer acted unlawfully, I think that solves the problems delineated in this essay.

    Seems to me that once a private citizen decides to take such important matters into their own hands, without the various training and safeguards given to say police officers, it is not unreasonable to require they affirmatively prove  that they acted lawfully.

    I'm also a lawyer, albeit not a criminal attorney, but I've seen a great legal shift towards allowing bad actors to avoid liability because the courts refuse to place burdens of proof on defendants, even when legally required to do so.  

    In the Martin trial, from what I've read, Florida had placed the burden of proof on the State to prove its case, even if the defendant argued an affirmative defense of self-defense.

    The other point I'd make is that its never perfect.  People make mistakes and that's true no matter what laws we have.   Had the burden been on Zimmerman to prove he acted reasonably, possible he still might win a given trial.

    I also agree that the prosecution didn't do a very good job, starting with a decision to overcharge the case which had negative impact on its ability to win at trial.  

    •  this is less about the burden (0+ / 0-)

      and more about the state's performance.

      I do not want to force an accused to prove BRD that he acted lawfully.  The onus is on the government to show that he acted unlawfully.

      Now, the practical onus is on the accused to present evidence of self-defense.

      Zimmerman got to do that through the government because they were stupid enough to put in all of his statements.

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