The presumption of innocence

Lynne Henderson hendersl at
Sat Oct 29 17:19:20 PDT 2005

 From the criminal law side, and from practice and reading studies of 
juries, "the presumption of innocence" is honored more in the breach in 
lay people's minds.  Indeed, many DAs in high profile cases, when 
interviewed on television, don't even mention it. There is no duty to 
mention it when interviewed.   When potential jurors undergo voir dire, 
they are told about the presumption but tend to think that if the 
accused is in the dock, he or she must be guilty. The DA will  pay it 
lip service and the defense tries to emphasize it if they can conduct 
their own voir dire.  If the judge does it, there's even less emphasis 
on it. It is, of course, even worse with a "death qualified"  jury.
IMHO, Fitzgerald was extremely diplomatic and emphasized the 
presumption to a) deflect questions about subtance and b) deflect 
accusations of bias.  He did a terrific job.  Balanced, clear, honored 
secrecy, respectful.

Prof. Lynne Henderson
On Oct 29, 2005, at 4:05 PM, Mae Kuykendall wrote:

> On Sandy Levisnon's query re Lanny Davis's emphasis that Libby is 
> presumed innocent:  " I wonder how much sense such legalistic notions 
> make to ordinary people."
> Prosecutor Fitzgereald was required to, and did, emphasize that the 
> defendant is presumed innocent.  As he said in fending off reporters' 
> questions, it's part of his ethical obligation not to vouch for the 
> case but only to put forward the allegations he has made.  He 
> corrected himself several times when he would say,  "This is very 
> serious," and go back to see, If the charges are proven, it is very 
> serious.
> T

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