In the most recent episode of The Defenders, the main characters defend a client charged with attempted murder, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, extortion with use of deadly weapon, and kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon.  The episode titled “Nevada v. Rodgers” first aired on October 27, 2010.

The elements of the crime were explained by the defense attorney played by Jim Belushi.  The defendant was the driver of a vehicle and remained in that vehicle while the events of the crime occurred inside of a bar.  Two men entered a bar and demanded repayment of an illegal gambling loan from another man.  In the course of events, a gun was drawn.  Two off-duty police officers were present in the bar and believed they were witnessing a robbery.  The officers reacted by drawing their firearms and identifying themselves as police officers.  The guns were fired and one police officer was killed while another was injured.  One of the suspects in the restaurant was also killed in the firefight.  The man in the car was arrested. The defense argues that the defendant was simply driving the two men and was unaware of their intentions and cannot be responsible for the ensuing gunfire.

During summation, both the District Attorney and the defense counsel promote their cases.  The District Attorney tries to explain a principle in which the simplest explanation is the most likely explanation and therefore the defendant should be found guilty.  To counter this, the defense explains that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The burden of proof rests on the prosecution in a criminal case because of the presumption of innocence of a defendant.  This presumption of innocence has its root in British common law.  The concept behind the presumption of evidence is that the accuser must prove guilt rather than forcing a party to defend his innocence.  It is the prosecution’s burden to prove the guilt of the defendant such that the reasonable man would not have doubt about the defendant’s guilt.

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