What is burden of proof?
In 1994, O.J. Simpson, former college and NFL superstar and, at the
time, actor and celebrity, was charged with the murder of his ex-wife and
her friend, Ronald Godman. It was among the most famous and
notorious criminal trials of the 20th Century. In 1995, a Los Angeles jury
found Mr. Simpson to be not guilty in the criminal case. In 1997, the
parents of Ron Goldman won a civil suit for damages against Mr.
Simpson based on the same events, facts etc. The Goldmans obtained a
large judgment against Mr. Simpson.
This handout is about burden of proof and the standard of burden of
proof. It wonders, how can it be that Mr. Simpson is found not guilty in
the criminal case and then liable in the civil case. To answer this
question, you must understand the interrelationship between the standard
of burden of proof in criminal and civil cases. Please answer these
questions. [Note: Just do your best on these. Neither the slides nor the
notes provide absolute answers.]
1. What is burden of proof?
2. What is the “standard of burden of proof” for criminal and for civil
3. If Mr. Simpson had been found guilty in the criminal case, how
might this have affected the civil case?
4. Given that Mr. Simpson was found not guilty, how is it that
plaintiffs could still file a civil action against him later?
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