Letter: Let’s be clear about the Rittenhouse verdict
The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial did not find Rittenhouse innocent, the jury members just found that there was reasonable doubt as to whether he was guilty.
Our criminal justice system is based on the premise that we’d rather free a guilty person than imprison an innocent one. Thus, in a criminal case the prosecution must prove quilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a criminal case a jury may find that a person is “not guilty” because they have some reasonable doubt about guilt, even if jurors think the person probably was guilty. In a criminal case, a jury never finds a person innocent. Thus, Rittenhouse’s victory does not mean he was innocent of murder, it just means that the prosecution failed to prove he was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In a civil case, the standard of proof is much different. A plaintiff only needs to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e., greater than 50%) that the person was guilty of the acts alleged.Thus, it is quite possible that the jury that found Rittenhouse not guilty in the criminal case would find him guilty in a civil case. In fact, a civil case is the only forum in which Rittenhouse could possibly prove his innocence. A failure to convict in a criminal case does not establish innocence.
I hope that the victims families will sue and I believe that the Department of Justice should bring suit. Any time a 17-year-old kid or anyone else walks into a demonstration of any type with a loaded AR-15-style rifle, they are acting as a vigilante and provoking violence. Furthermore, when Terry Quinn in his letter on the Rittenhouse verdict refers to “lefty lawyers,” he is referring to the people who are trying to uphold the rule of law, not lawless vigilantes like Rittenhouse.
James C. Ruh
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