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Innocent Until Proven Guilty...does this sentiment still exsist?

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Italiahaircolor

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I was watching The View this morning, and in a round about way this was the topic in terms of the Madoff scam. Apparently, Madoff is out on bail and holed up in his 7+ million dollar home awaiting trial. People are very upset by this fact...they feel that Madoff should be in prision for what he''s done, not living in the lap of luxury with 29 million dollars in his bank account since he has already attempted to flush money into other things while out on bail.

However, the judge in this case simply went on ''law'' when making the decision to release Madoff because he is not a flight risk, and he''s not a danger to society...so legally, he had to get bail...

So...where do you stand on this? Do you think people are still given the benefit of innocence until proven guilty...or, do you think with the modern advances in DNA, and crime scene anaylsis, and paper trails that someones guilt or innocence is rapidly proven logically, and a trail is simply a luxury?
 

tlh

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Innocent until proven guilty is an interesting thought. I believe in the eye of the law, this is true... but as mere mortal men form the jury.... anything goes.

Not to bring up OLD SH!T, but OJ Simpson was found INNOCENT in the criminal trial. MONEY buys you a lot of POWER... even when you are guilty. I say that because, whatever little doubt I held for the juice back in ''95... disappeared when he wrote a book called "If I Did It"....
 

HollyS

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The ''law'' gets a bad rap, because guilty people often go free. Guilty people can find a way to circumvent the law. Innocent people can be tried and convicted. However, many of the issues we have with ''law'' are the very same things that make it an important part of the fabric of our society. . . following the letter of the law, in every aspect of every case, makes it as fair as humans are capable of being in judging others. And I for one have no desire to see that disappear.

Do people get ''tried'' in the newspapers, on tv, and through the court of public opinion? Absolutely. Media should keep a lot of stuff to themselves, as it is getting harder and harder to get pools of jurors without any preconceived notions when we''re talking about the famous and infamous. Hard to get that ''change of venue'' if everyone everywhere has an opinion about your guilt.
 

somethingshiny

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Date: 3/4/2009 6:58:39 PM
Author: HollyS
The ''law'' gets a bad rap, because guilty people often go free.

as fair as humans are capable of being in judging others. And I for one have no desire to see that disappear.


Hard to get that ''change of venue'' if everyone everywhere has an opinion about your guilt.
nicely stated

Additionally, the person in question is not a killer (as is OJ Simpson), so I don''t care if he''s out on bail. If he''s tried and convicted and sentenced, he''ll serve his punishment then.

And, I can say from the "other side": my dad was jailed for murder. He was NOT let out on bail and he IS innocent. He was not released until his innocence was proven. While we were frustrated that he had to be jailed when we knew he was innocent, there was comfort in knowing that "most" of the time, the guilty are put away immediately (in the case of "big" crimes).
 

Haven

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Well said, Holly.

somethingshiny--What an ordeal! I'm glad to hear that your father was ultimately freed. This is actually my worst fear in the entire world--to be accused and/or convicted of a crime I did not commit. I cannot think of having to live through anything worse.

ETA: I think it is absolutely necessary to treat individuals as being innocent until proven guilty. Absolutely.
 

CrookedRock

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Innocent until proven guilty... Well Madoff admitted his guilt. What''s there to prove? He should be in jail.
 

neatfreak

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I don''t have a problem with him being released before his trial if he really isn''t a flight risk. But I DO have a problem with him living it up in his multimillion dollar house paid for by his scams. I wish they would confiscate that!
 

DiamanteBlu

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Wonder if the IRS thinks he owes them money . . . with them it''s guilty until proven innocent!
 

Italiahaircolor

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I didn''t really intend for this to be about Madoff...just more of an "in general" topic...

I live in Naperville Illinois, which is neighbors to Bolingbrook where Stacy Peterson lived prior to going missing. Living so near by was an interesting experience. Drew Peterson, in public opinion--was tried, convicted and hung out to dry...when in reality, there isn''t much concrete evidence contecting him to the (maybe) crimes.

Personally, I believe Drew is guilty, I look at him and see a murder...but legally he''s not. However, it''s very hard for me personally to keep that in mind...
 

tlh

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I think I''d make a perfect or maybe not... juror... I sooo desperately WANT to believe people are innocent... so I don''t know. I have convicted Octomom- as a bad mother... and I don''t even know her.... so I am judgemental... but when it comes to trials... I just want to believe the best in everyone. I could easily be swayed by whomever has the most convincing argument... the Distract Attny or the Defense attny... either way... the story that sounds the most plausible... will get my vote....
 

littlelysser

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Well, here''s the thing - in terms of the LAW, yes, individuals are innocent until proven guilty. The state bears the burden of proving guilt. And here''s the thing - even if there is a TON of evidence against a person, that doesn''t mean that they are guilty in the eyes of the law. You can have a smoking gun, dead body and a person''s fingerprints on the gun. He or she may have committed the murder, but that doesn''t mean that they are legally guilty. Insanity, self defense, etc, can all be defenses. So as far as I''m concerned, until the trial has concluded, a person is innocent until proven guilty. And legally, that is the standard.

In the media, however, all bets are off. Of course, that is also why the media doesn''t have the power to put folks in jail.
 

kittybean

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I like to think that the concept of the presumption of innocence very much exists--I rely on it every day in my job. Like LittleLysser said, the government must prove the case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

Date: 3/4/2009 10:25:27 PM
Author: tlh
I think I''d make a perfect or maybe not... juror... I sooo desperately WANT to believe people are innocent... so I don''t know.

I could easily be swayed by whomever has the most convincing argument... the Distract Attny or the Defense attny... either way... the story that sounds the most plausible... will get my vote....
The thing is, the defendant does not have to tell you a story or convince you of anything. It is the defendant''s right to remain silent, to not call a single witness, and to make the state prove every element of every charge against them beyond a reasonable doubt. If a juror has any reasonable doubt in his mind regarding any element the prosecutor is required to prove, the presumption of innocence dictates that that juror must determine that the defendant is not guilty. (Elements of a crime include things like that the alleged act took place within the jurisdiction, that defendant committed the act, and that the defendant committed the act with the requisite culpable state of mind.)

I agree with most posters that the media often interferes with someone''s right to a fair trial in very public cases. Like Holly said, a change of venue often makes no difference since everyone from L.A. to Timbuktu can access tons of information about the case at any time. This affects such a small percentage of cases; in most cases, you get a jury who knows nothing about the case, the defendant, or the witnesses, and that is a great thing.

I think that Madoff living in a mansion while out on bail is pretty darn unfair, but it''s not legally wrong. While I''d love to see him sitting in jail waiting for trial (as many of my clients are forced to do), I think allowing him to make bail is legally correct. I can''t fault the judge there, even though it seems pretty absurdly unjust in a moral sense.
 

pennquaker09

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I have to be completely convinced of guilt. Public opinion is everything, however. If the media slants it to make a person seem guilty, that''s just the way it is.
 

HollyS

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Date: 3/4/2009 10:25:27 PM
Author: tlh
I think I''d make a perfect or maybe not... juror... I sooo desperately WANT to believe people are innocent... so I don''t know. I have convicted Octomom- as a bad mother... and I don''t even know her.... so I am judgemental... but when it comes to trials... I just want to believe the best in everyone. I could easily be swayed by whomever has the most convincing argument... the Distract Attny or the Defense attny... either way... the story that sounds the most plausible... will get my vote....
I have the feeling you''ve never been a juror. You cannot allow anyone''s story to influence your decision. You should, and must, weigh evidence.

Stories, personalities, juror''s emotions, and slight-of-hand BS by the prosecution or the defense attorney is exactly why people like O.J. go free. If the evidence had been weighed and carefully considered in his trial for murder, he would have been sent to the hooskow many years ago . . . there was plenty of it. Did the prosecution screw things up? Sure. Was the judge an idiot? Somewhat. Was the defense team a bunch of con artists? You betcha. But it was up to the jurors to see beyond that and look at evidence; and they failed.

By the same token, if tangible evidence is not presented at trial, and if it has not been ''proven beyond a reasonable doubt'' that the defendant is guilty, the jury must not let their emotions, gut feelings, or someone else''s opinion sway their vote of innocent. Regardless of the media attention, or even what their mother might think.
 

tlh

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Date: 3/5/2009 8:49:26 AM
Author: HollyS


Date: 3/4/2009 10:25:27 PM
Author: tlh
I think I'd make a perfect or maybe not... juror... I sooo desperately WANT to believe people are innocent... so I don't know. I have convicted Octomom- as a bad mother... and I don't even know her.... so I am judgemental... but when it comes to trials... I just want to believe the best in everyone. I could easily be swayed by whomever has the most convincing argument... the Distract Attny or the Defense attny... either way... the story that sounds the most plausible... will get my vote....
I have the feeling you've never been a juror. You cannot allow anyone's story to influence your decision. You should, and must, weigh evidence.

Stories, personalities, juror's emotions, and slight-of-hand BS by the prosecution or the defense attorney is exactly why people like O.J. go free. If the evidence had been weighed and carefully considered in his trial for murder, he would have been sent to the hooskow many years ago . . . there was plenty of it. Did the prosecution screw things up? Sure. Was the judge an idiot? Somewhat. Was the defense team a bunch of con artists? You betcha. But it was up to the jurors to see beyond that and look at evidence; and they failed.

By the same token, if tangible evidence is not presented at trial, and if it has not been 'proven beyond a reasonable doubt' that the defendant is guilty, the jury must not let their emotions, gut feelings, or someone else's opinion sway their vote of innocent. Regardless of the media attention, or even what their mother might think.
No I have not been a juror... I am just saying, yeah I might be SUPPOSED to be weighing evidence... but I would be listening to who has the most plausible explanation for what happened... in addition to weighing the evidence.
Yes, I admit, I could be bamboozled.
ETA: I probably would have been one of those people to vote not guilty with OJ. I watched the trials... and I WANTED to believe him... and until the book came out.. I really held that "reasonable doubt" that he didn't do it...
 

Italiahaircolor

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I think legally speaking it still exsists...but socially it doesn''t.

I was incredibly young when the whole OJ Simpson thing went down. But I remember listening to the verdict live in my social studies class in Junior High and feel incredible remorse because even at such a young age, I believed him to be guilty as sin. And, when I read his book, it just reaffirmed my belief.

Drew Peterson, no charges have been brough up on him...but I begrudge him having a "normal" life with freedoms. I believe he killed two of his wives...and when I see his face on a newspaper cover, or hear more of his lies on national television, I wonder why he isn''t locked up like the animal he is.

Same goes for Casey Anothony. Of course we''ve gotten further in her case than Drews...charges have been filed. However, I don''t think I''ve heard one person give her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her guilt or innocence. People in the media draw and quater her nightly.
 

Octavia

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Italia, I agree that there are people running around free in society who probably shouldn''t be. But our system guarantees the accused due process of law -- it doesn''t guarantee society a correct verdict.

The phrase "innocent" as used in "innocent until proven guilty" or the first post about OJ above is somewhat problematic to me, as well. When a jury renders its verdict, it''s either guilty or not guilty. Conceptually, not guilty does not equal innocent. Innocent means the person really didn''t do what he or she is accused of -- which, unless the jury was actually there when the crime was committed, they can''t possibly know. Not guilty means, as others have said, that the prosecution didn''t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It''s absolutely possible for someone to be guilty in fact, but not guilty at law, and just as possible for someone to be innocent in fact but guilty at law. It''s the risk our system runs, but how could we do it better? Short of installing "black boxes" like the ones on airplanes into every person residing in the country, I really don''t know that we could, or should.

What I think it really interesting in an evolutionary sense is how much the concept of due process has expanded over the past 230 years. Defendants get vastly more in terms of "process" now than they did when the Constitution was drafted -- the right to an attorney that they don''t have to pay for themselves, the right to exclude evidence obtained by illegal means, etc. It''s certainly not perfect for all defendants, but honestly, I''d rather be a defendant now than in 1810. At the same time, the globalization of information makes it seem like things are so much worse for both society and defendants, simultaneously. I don''t think that the "wrong" verdicts are any worse or more plentiful now than they were a hundred years ago, the only real difference is that now we all know about them and sensationalize them, and it causes a real polarization in our views of the legal system.

Anyway, enough rambling from me...but it''s really an interesting topic in so many ways.
 

dragonfly411

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I think the innocent until proven guilty holds as a good thing in many situations. If someone murdered my mother for instance, and I were held suspect but I and my entire family knew I didn''t do it, do I deserve to be in prison until they figure that out? I think there should be a point where the line is drawn though. I know a girl who stole from someone I knew, and who stole from her work place, and there was video proof for both, but they still let her run around until her convicting trial... she ended up stealing from her grandparents
 
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