I'm especially interested in hearing from those who think Zimmerman should have been convicted based on the evidence presented at trial. The State not only had the burden of proving that Zimmerman killed Martin but once the Martin lawyers brought up self defense, the state had to disprove that it was self defense by that same high standard. I think it's clear the state could not meet that burden so I'm asking all you, especially those of you who think the verdict was unjust, is that burden just too high to put on the prosecutor?
Answers will be yes, no, and I don't know/maybe.
Working on poll.
Hopefully you know from any prior posts of mine on this issue that I did not follow the Zimmerman case and was content to let the legal system run it's course. I am also content with the jury's decision.
First I need to correct you on a legal point. The prosection has the burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if a defendant raises an affirmative defense, as in a claim of self-defense, then the burden shifts to the defense to prove this affirmative defense applies as a matter of law in order to convince the judge to dismiss the charges as a matter of law. The prosecution will argue against this effort, but it has nothing to do with reasonable doubt. They need only show that the defense is incorrect in it's application of the law
. If the defense fails to convince the judge to dismiss the case they can file an objection for purposes of appeal; then the process resumes with the prosecution continuing with it's burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Next, the burden of proof is high because of the imbalance of power between the State, acting as the people's voice, and the defense. The State has an entire system set up and funded by taxpayers to handle criminal issues. Aside from the legal experts in the Prosecutors Office, there are police whose job is to investigate, Crime Scene Investigators whose job is to analyze evidence, Coroners who handle post-mortem examinations and medical evidence, Psychiatrists/Psychologists/Social workers who handle the mental, emotional and environmental analysis for the State. These are their full-time JOBS, and WE pay them to do this.
On the side of the Defendant? Whatever legal support his personal income can provide. Rich men can pay for private investigators, expert witnesses, etc. Poor men have to share time with underfunded Public Defenders whose budget does not allow for much in the way of investigation or expert support. Middle class defendants? They usually start out with a private attorney, then after getting into massive debt, often find themselves with Public Defenders after all.
So they NEED at least the "presumption of innocence" to stand any chance of success in court at all.