Beyond Reasonable Doubt


by Liz Franklin

For justice to prevail, only truth derived from facts should be admissible in a court of law. How many wrongful convictions could have been prevented if this were actually the case? Theories, assumptions, suppositions, inferences, speculations, beliefs, suspicions, presumptions, and the ever-popular "consistent with(s)" are abstract nouns and by their very nature they inherently possess doubt; they are based on ideas, concepts, ideals, emotions, and things that cannot be proven because they only exist in the mind. Whereas that of concrete nouns, which are based on fact; those things which can be measured, touched, identified--these are things that can be proven factually. Abstract nouns have the doubt built right in. 

And don't get me started on inconclusive, this is a term used when the adversary can't deny that investigating or testing was performed but that the results didn't turn out in their favor. It's a simple fact...evidence is either proven to be true or it isn't. A hair may be consistent with one found at a crime scene but that is not evidence; it's a compass or a tool, at best. For it to be considered evidence, it's either a match or it isn't.

This brings us to the notoriously deceptive circumstantial evidence; whose definition is "evidence which relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact", such as that of a fingerprint at the crime scene. As compared to direct evidence, which supports the truth of an assertion directly, i.e., without need for any additional evidence or inference.

Perhaps prosecuting attorneys everywhere should skip the next legal seminar and bone up on their linguistics.

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