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JUSTICE IN AMERICA - Need for "Not Proven" Verdicts

I have always disagreed with our U.S. justice system when it comes to "innocent unless proven guilty."

In my opinion, a better for way in felony law is to have the possibility of 3 verdicts; guilty, not guilty, and not proven.  Like law in Scotland.


'Not proven' is a verdict available to a court in Scotland.  As with other judicial systems, the burden to prove guilt rests with the prosecution.

Under Scots law, a criminal trial may end in one of three verdicts:  one of conviction ("guilty") and two of acquittal ("not proven" and "not guilty").

Historically, the two verdicts available to Scots juries were that the case had been "proven" or "not proven."  However, in a dramatic case in 1728 the jury asserted "its ancient right" to bring in a "not guilty" verdict even when the facts of the case were proven (see jury nullification).  As the "not guilty" verdict gained wide acceptance amongst Scots juries, Scots began to use "not guilty" in cases where the jury felt the "not proven" verdict did not adequately express the innocence of the person on trial.  Shrewd defense then further encouraged this interpretation in order to persuade juries unwilling to bring in a "not guilty" verdict that the "not proven" could be brought in as a lesser or "third verdict."

The result is the modern perception that the "not proven" verdict is an acquittal used when the judge or jury does not have enough evidence to convict but is not sufficiently convinced of the accused person's innocence to bring in a "not guilty" verdict.  Essentially, the judge or Jury is unconvinced that the suspect is innocent, but has insufficient evidence to the contrary.  In popular parlance, this verdict is sometimes jokingly referred to as "not guilty and don't do it again."

A 'not proven' verdict would result in acquittal but with the possibility of retrial.  This would lessen the accused being released, and repeating the crime, on technicality.  My favorite is a warrant with a street name misspelled.

In other words, I believe that BOTH the prosecution AND defense must PROVE their case.  If either dose not prove their case the verdict is 'not proven.'

And, of course, I support the idea of "Jury Nullification."


This post first appeared on Mage Soapbox, please read the originial post: here

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JUSTICE IN AMERICA - Need for "Not Proven" Verdicts

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