Courting Judgment

*The ambiguity over Scott Peterson’s alibi would rule me out as an unbiased juror. Here’s a guy — whose wife is eight months pregnant — trying to decide whether he should play golf or go fishing on Christmas Eve. Next case.

*The media need to be more precise when reporting on trial results. Defendants, as we know, are convicted or acquitted as a result of having been adjudged “guilty” or “not guilty.” The latter, however, is not synonymous with “innocent.” It’s a moral judgment, not a legal term; its use is inappropriate when assessing the result of evidence presented and doubts weighed.

Case in point: “Fugitive Heir Found Innocent of Murder.” A number of media outlets — especially on line — actually found that to be an appropriate headline for the not-guilty verdict rendered in the notorious case of New York real estate heir Robert Durst.

Here’s a rule of thumb: Never use “innocent” in a case where a defendant has acknowledged dismembering a body.

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