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View Diary: Justice in Florida: Marissa Alexander gets a new trial (354 comments)

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  •  Sure. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, patbahn, viral, LilithGardener

    That part, that the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, sounds easy. But that instruction isn't a one line document: it is an entire page of explanation and it has spawned a lot of variations and litigation.

    And that doesn't even touch the more complicated part, when a defendant presents a defense. Some defenses are affirmative ones, meaning the defendant has the burden on that question. Some defenses are not affirmative and once the defendant presents enough evidence, a minimum called a prima facie case, the burden shifts back to the prosecutor to disprove the defense. But the burden of disproof can vary from state to state and also is subject to lots of appellate cases. And that is before the prosecutor or the defense gets in on the act and suggests different instructions because they think it may help their case just a little bit more than a standard.

    I'm no fan of the disparate ways cases are handled based on race and it happens a lot, especially in the investigation and charging parts of a case. But there's that old saying about not attributing to malice what can be explained by incompetence. Having read and seen a lot of trials, getting the jury instructions wrong on this issue does not come as a surprise to me at all. Mistakes happen. Often.

    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. --Anaïs Nin

    by CenPhx on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 12:48:47 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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