A defendant always has the presumption of innocence, and the prosecution always carries the burden of proving their case “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The burden is high because the stakes are as well. In a murder conviction, the defendant could lose their freedom for the remainder of their natural life. So, the preparation work leading up to a trial is enormous and needs to be on point.
In this week’s episode Jordan and Bill discuss the process leading up to a trial, beginning with the thoroughness and required documentation of every step of the investigation. They speak about the presentment of evidence to the Grand Jury and the criminal indictments and the move to Superior Court. They address the mandatory exchange of an often enormous amount of discovery materials between the prosecutor and the defense counsel and how that information becomes the basis of trial motions and hearings that determine what evidence and information will be allowed during the trial.
The murder case against Michael McDermott, while seemingly iron-clad, takes a turn when the defense advises the trial judge they intend to pursue the affirmative defense of Insanity. Now the prosecution must not only prove the murder charges against McDermott but also defend against the claim that he was “substantially unable to appreciate the criminality or wrongfulness of his conduct” and/or that he was “substantially unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law”.