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Burden of Proof

Posted by John Rutkowski | Jun 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

In Reid v State of Florida, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D1413a, Reid was charged with murder and attempt murder. In his closing argument, the prosecutor improperly shifted the burden of proof to the defendant by asking jury multiple times to return guilty verdict based upon Reid's failure to call certain witness, who by prosecutor's own admission was equally available to state and apparently had no special relationship to defendant.

The burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is solely on the prosecutor. The defense has no burden to prove innocents. When a witness is available equally to both the prosecutor and the defense, even though the defense makes states in its opening that a witness will testify and they do not it is reversible error for the prosecutor to assert the defense has the burden to follow through and call the witness.

Because of this error the court of appeals reversed Reid's convictions and sent the case back to the trial court for new trial.

About the Author

John Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-three years. Prior to practicing law Mr. Rutkowski served twelve years as a deputy sheriff, retiring to attend law school. Starting his law-enforcement career as a patrol deputy which included two years on the DUI squad; Mr. Rutkowski moved up the ranks becoming a corporal in the field training program which give him the responsibility for training new recruits.


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