Tuesday, October 26, 2021

"Not guilty" should be the default

Someone in my family got a jury duty notice again, but the trial was canceled before they met. But this is a good time for a reminder.

If you were a juror and had a bad feeling about the accused, but the government didn't prove its case against him, what would you do?

You should render a verdict of "not guilty" anyway.

"Not guilty" should always be the default. It's the government's "job" to prove their case to move you away from that position, but you aren't obligated to move an inch.

"Not guilty" doesn't mean you're sure he didn't do it. It doesn't mean you think he's a great guy. It doesn't mean you don't believe he's ever done anything else wrong. It just means the government didn't prove its case to your satisfaction-- or that the legislation he's accused of violating in this instance is counterfeit.

I could be on a jury and say "not guilty" but still feel the accused isn't trustworthy. I might still warn people to stay away from him because I think he's a slimeball. But I'm not going to hand the government a "win" based on my feelings and suspicions. Especially if they don't prove their case or are trying to enforce counterfeit "laws". It's your responsibility to hold them to a higher standard when you have the power to do so.

Besides, court isn't real life. It's just a ritual. Your life decisions shouldn't hinge on what happens in a court. If you don't trust someone, don't take a court verdict into account when considering whether you might be wrong about them.

There are people on death row (often for killing home-invading cops) I would gladly hang out with and there are people who have been acquitted that I would only be in the same room with if I were pointing a gun at them.

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