Friday, February 4, 2011

A Clarification

A couple of readers have commented about the penalty phase of Michael Wayne Hall's trial. That is a point worthy of discussion, but I'll leave it for those who comment and those who write elsewhere.

For clarification, my focus is on actual, factual guilt or innocence. I am primarily interested in whether the person committed or participated in the crime. This is different than legal guilt or innocence.

A person may be legally innocent though he comitted or participated in the crime. The jury may have found that the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the defendant was legally insane at the time of the crime. I don't have a fundamental objection to either situation, though I would prefer that sane, factually guilty people pay for their crime and that insane people not pay for their insanity.

More disturbingly, at least to me, a person may be legally guilty though he neither committed nor participated in the crime. The jury may have concluded that the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, though the defendant was factually innocent (as in the case of Byron Case) or though no crime in fact had occurred (as in the case of Michael Ledford.) These are the cases that motivate me, and threaten to consume me.

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