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Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

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  • #16
    Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

    On Mon, 4 Aug 2003 05:38:26 +0000 (UTC), [email protected] (Rich Wales)
    wrote:
    It seems to me like there are three possibilities1) Jurors are convinced the only reasonable explanation of the evidence must be a scenario in which the accused is guilty.(2) Jurors are convinced there is at least one reasonable expla- nation of the evidence supporting a scenario in which the accused is not guilty -- regardless of whether or not some other reasonable explanation of the evidence might support guilt.(3) Jurors see a reasonable explanation of the evidence in which the accused is guilty -- and they can't articulate any specific, reasoned explanation of the evidence in which the accused isn't guilty -- but they still have a "gut feeling" or other indefinable belief that something is amiss and that the accused really isn't guilty after all.I assume everyone agrees that possibility #1 should lead to averdict of guilty, and possibility #2 should lead to a verdictof not guilty.My impression (please correct me if I'm off) is that Robert Rischwould say possibility #3 should clearly lead to a verdict of guiltybecause a doubt can't be "reasonable doubt" (and must therefore beignored) if it can't be specifically articulated -- whereas I thinkJon Beaver would still want a jury faced with possibility #3 toretain the option of finding the accused not guilty. Am I right?I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth; I'm just trying tounderstand exactly where the difference lies.
    (1) and (2) are logically contrapositive so of course you are right
    about them.

    (3) is the heart of the matter, as you surmised. Defense attorneys,
    with guilty clients, want to raise enough side questions about the
    evidence so that the jurors think that the issue before them is to
    decide the latter rather than the question about the guilt of the
    defendant. The OJ case was a magnificent example.

    However, it is probably more common that innocent people are convicted
    by a jury, even though there exists an innocent explanation for the
    evidence. That is because they also can convict (whose to stop them?)
    on their vague gut feelings, which they can't "specifically
    articulate". I prefer a uniform standard for both sides. That is
    why I think the trier of fact should produce a report, giving an
    explanation for the verdict.

    RHR

    Comment


    • #17
      Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

      On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 00:23:00 -0700, Jon Beaver <[email protected]> wrote:
      Risch want's to make it an objective test. He wantsjurors to feel that they can't acquit unless they can explain whythey're not convinced. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, butit's incompatible with a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, soit's not the law.
      We are back to square one. You are begging the question of what
      reasonable doubt means. Now show me the law that says that jurors
      should acquit if they don't know the answers to all the questions the
      defense raises about the evidence. And even if there isn't such a
      law, why in the name of justice, should they?

      RHR

      Comment


      • #18
        Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

        On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 12:59:32 GMT, Robert H. Risch
        <[email protected]> wrote:
        On Mon, 4 Aug 2003 05:38:26 +0000 (UTC), [email protected] (Rich Wales)wrote:
        It seems to me like there are three possibilities1) Jurors are convinced the only reasonable explanation of the evidence must be a scenario in which the accused is guilty.(2) Jurors are convinced there is at least one reasonable expla- nation of the evidence supporting a scenario in which the accused is not guilty -- regardless of whether or not some other reasonable explanation of the evidence might support guilt.(3) Jurors see a reasonable explanation of the evidence in which the accused is guilty -- and they can't articulate any specific, reasoned explanation of the evidence in which the accused isn't guilty -- but they still have a "gut feeling" or other indefinable belief that something is amiss and that the accused really isn't guilty after all.I assume everyone agrees that possibility #1 should lead to averdict of guilty, and possibility #2 should lead to a verdictof not guilty.My impression (please correct me if I'm off) is that Robert Rischwould say possibility #3 should clearly lead to a verdict of guiltybecause a doubt can't be "reasonable doubt" (and must therefore beignored) if it can't be specifically articulated -- whereas I thinkJon Beaver would still want a jury faced with possibility #3 toretain the option of finding the accused not guilty. Am I right?I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth; I'm just trying tounderstand exactly where the difference lies.
        (1) and (2) are logically contrapositive so of course you are rightabout them.(3) is the heart of the matter, as you surmised. Defense attorneys,with guilty clients, want to raise enough side questions about theevidence so that the jurors think that the issue before them is todecide the latter rather than the question about the guilt of thedefendant. The OJ case was a magnificent example.However, it is probably more common that innocent people are convictedby a jury, even though there exists an innocent explanation for theevidence. That is because they also can convict (whose to stop them?)on their vague gut feelings, which they can't "specificallyarticulate". I prefer a uniform standard for both sides. That iswhy I think the trier of fact should produce a report, giving anexplanation for the verdict.
        Risch, why do you talk this stuff? A lot of lawyers have told you
        this isn't the law. It has nothing to do with the amount of doubt.
        A reasonable doubt is an actual doubt as opposed to theoretical doubt.
        It's merely to advise the jury that they need no acquit merely
        because, in some philosophical sense, everything is subject to some
        doubt. The concept of making a jury answerable to the government for
        deciding against it is silly. Even so, "I don't know why, but I'm not
        convinced" would be a perfectly acceptable answer.

        - Jon Beaver

        Comment


        • #19
          Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

          On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 13:05:42 GMT, Robert H. Risch
          <[email protected]> wrote:
          On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 00:23:00 -0700, Jon Beaver <[email protected]> wrote:
          Risch want's to make it an objective test. He wantsjurors to feel that they can't acquit unless they can explain whythey're not convinced. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, butit's incompatible with a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, soit's not the law.
          We are back to square one. You are begging the question of whatreasonable doubt means. Now show me the law that says that jurorsshould acquit if they don't know the answers to all the questions thedefense raises about the evidence. And even if there isn't such alaw, why in the name of justice, should they?
          Convince you you're wrong? Not likely.


          - Jon Beaver

          Comment


          • #20
            Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

            On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 07:17:58 -0700, Jon Beaver <[email protected]> wrote:
            Even so, "I don't know why, but I'm notconvinced" would be a perfectly acceptable answer.
            Then so is, "I don't know why, but he's guilty".

            RHR

            Comment


            • #21
              Can defense inform a Texas jury of their right to acquit?

              [email protected] (Rich Wales) wrote in message news:<[email protected] ord.EDU>...

              Jurors need not convict in any case, whatever the evidence, if they do
              not believe a conviction is justified. Guilt cannot justify a
              conviction if the prosecution is misguided.

              A good example would be Ed Rosenthal. The jurors were convinced he
              was guilty - but if they'd known he was growing medical marijuana,
              would have acquitted him. I'd have praised them for that.

              Under #2 and #3, it appears the jurors are required to acquit. Jurors
              need not be able to articulate any specific or reasoned explanation of
              a reasonable doubt. A reasonable person may watch witnesses and
              simply believe from body language or other intangibles that those
              people just can't be trusted, and not be able to give any reason why.
              An indefinable belief or "gut feeling" is a reasonable doubt.

              A reasonable doubt is not a doubt based on reasons. It is the failure
              of the State to adequately rebut the presumption of innocence. Jurors
              do not need articulable, reasoned explanations to justify an acquittal
              - only a conviction.

              Clay S. Conrad
              www.fija.org
              It seems to me like there are three possibilities: (1) Jurors are convinced the only reasonable explanation of the evidence must be a scenario in which the accused is guilty. (2) Jurors are convinced there is at least one reasonable expla- nation of the evidence supporting a scenario in which the accused is not guilty -- regardless of whether or not some other reasonable explanation of the evidence might support guilt. (3) Jurors see a reasonable explanation of the evidence in which the accused is guilty -- and they can't articulate any specific, reasoned explanation of the evidence in which the accused isn't guilty -- but they still have a "gut feeling" or other indefinable belief that something is amiss and that the accused really isn't guilty after all. I assume everyone agrees that possibility #1 should lead to a verdict of guilty, and possibility #2 should lead to a verdict of not guilty. My impression (please correct me if I'm off) is that Robert Risch would say possibility #3 should clearly lead to a verdict of guilty because a doubt can't be "reasonable doubt" (and must therefore be ignored) if it can't be specifically articulated -- whereas I think Jon Beaver would still want a jury faced with possibility #3 to retain the option of finding the accused not guilty. Am I right? I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth; I'm just trying to understand exactly where the difference lies. Rich Wales [email protected] http://www.richw.org *DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. My comments are for discussion purposes only and are not intended to be relied upon as legal or professional advice.

              Comment

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