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; given the fact that they are based on ideas, concepts, ideals, emotions, and things that cannot be proven because they only exist in the mind. Whereas concrete nouns 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. 

Then there's the ever-popular inconclusive; this is a term used when the adversary cannot deny that investigating or testing was performed but that the results didn't turn out in their favor. It is a resolute 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 an empirical[1] 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.

[1] Empirical evidence refers to factual data that is collected by conducting observations and experiments. It is a systematic process; every step is documented. Further, raw data is used to derive meaningful conclusions and findings.<br>


© 2022 Wrongful Convictions News™ All rights reserved.