I marathon watched the Netflix docu-drama, Making a Murderer, last week, in what essentially amounts to The Life and Times of Steven Avery.
In a nutshell: He was wrongly convicted of rape in 1985, served 18 years in prison, before being exonerated by both DNA, and a confession by the guy who actually did it; and because the county ignored the exculpitory evidence of his likely innocence at least twice post-conviction—forcing him to serve at least an additional eight years before finally being exonerated—he sued the county for $36 million in 2005…and at the point where two county employees were added to the civil complaint personally, and were being depossed, Steven ended up with a murder investigation and prosecution on his hands: and importantly, investigated—with evidence gathered—by those same people facing life devastating civil judgments.
Yea, it’s pretty riveting. It’s also, in se, grounds for rationabile dubium. But let me probare causam meam.
I’ve seen a number of pieces since this has exploded internationally. Nothing I’ve seen yet—these two pieces just yesterday, pro and con the murder conviction: Dead Certainty and Making a Murderer, “Biased” Journalism & Necessary Outrage (h/t: Mike Eades’ excellent monthly book and reading reco posts)—are particularly satisfying to me.
It’s like this, for me. Everyone is turning on guilt or innocence, evidence pro and con, and since short of red-hand-in-cookie-jar certainty, the principles that began to be laid down in jurisprudence nearly 1,500 years ago—predating even The Muslim Menace—are intended to put the burden of proof on the accuser. Ideally, a defendant ought be able to just sit there, and it’s decided—whether by judge alone, or jury—whether a stiff burden of proof has been met. And if not: acquittal. That means: no moral or legal judgment on guilt or innocence, and you live with the double-edged sword of Enlightenment and civility. In another nutshell: you just didn’t prove it.