Someone forwarded me this story recently. They thought I would be interested in the topic because I’m involved in related litigation. I was interested. Unfortunately, what I got from it wasn’t just information about what happened in the case, but also concerns about the abysmal quality of the reporting.
“After 6-hour trial, Snowbowl protester still guilty,” the title reads.
It’s amazing the words “still guilty” made it through editing. I assume that the author intended to somehow emphasize that, despite what she perceives to be a lengthy trial, the defendant did not prevail. “Snowbowl protester found guilty after 6-hour trial” probably would’ve conveyed that just fine. It also would’ve avoided the frustrating misconceptions that abound from the title she actually chose.
Her title suggests the poor guy was guilty from the start. It’s like he was presumed guilty, but through some sort of legal magic he was able to suspend his obvious culpability for a moment. Now that the smoke has cleared, everyone can rest assured that he’s still guilty.
It’s as if he hadn’t entered a not guilty plea at his first hearing. It’s as if the state doesn’t bear the burden of proof. It’s as if he wasn’t legally innocent until the very moment the verdict came down. All the trial did, the article seems to suggest, was confirm what everyone thought they knew all along.
Now that I think about it, maybe the author does know a little something about the criminal justice system. That sure makes the article a lot more depressing.