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Old 01-24-2013, 06:23   #130
Cavalry Doc
MAJ (USA Ret.)
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Republic of Texas
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Originally Posted by void * View Post
I am not claiming it is an assumption of the eventual outcome. I am claiming that in the absence of other evidence, an assumption would be made that something were true.

For instance, some states have laws that state mere possession of lock picks, if you are not a licensed dealer or a licensed locksmith, is prima facie evidence of intent to commit burglary.

That means that *with no other evidence*, the mere fact that someone possessed lock picks, and was not a licensed dealer or locksmith, means that the court will assume that it is true that the person possessing the lock picks intended to commit burglary - and the burden to prove otherwise is on the person possessing the picks. That says nothing about outcome, the defense may or may not be able to prove otherwise. If the defense can, the burden shifts again, and the prosecution better have presented other evidence if they want the court to consider the person as having such intent (which is part of why lawyers will point out that some statute states something in particular is prima facie evidence, and will also provide a whole bunch of *other* evidence that also supports that). If the defense can't present evidence to the contrary, then the court will consider the defendant as having had that intent whether he in reality did or not (at least with respect to whatever decisions he has to make where prima facie evidence would apply).

Prima facie *means* "at first glance", but that does not make it 'a "first glance"'.

In a legal sense, prima facie is all about who has the burden of proof, and why. In the lock pick example, for instance, it would ordinarily initially be on the prosecution to prove that someone had intent to burglarize. The existence of a state statute making mere possession of lock picks prima facie evidence of intent to burglarize means the prosecution no longer has to show any evidence of intent, other than the fact the person possessed the picks - the court will assume the intent is there, and the burden of proof shifts to the defense, who must now prove otherwise.

It works basically the same way in civil cases. If you're suing someone, you initially have to make your case, which can include presenting evidence that the judge will look at and decide whether or not it's prima facie evidence given the circumstances (if he does, you get to keep going - if he doesn't, your case will get thrown out) - or you can present evidence and cite either law or case law that states that evidence must be considered prima facie evidence, and if you cited that law or case law, and the evidence meets the conditions of that law or case law (assuming the court you are in is bound by the law you are citing, or the ruling that created the case law), the judge cannot do otherwise but consider it prima facie evidence, and the burden of proof will shift to the defense.

Thanks for trying to claim I didn't know any of that, though - it was actually rather funny - as was your attempt to claim that my statement was regarding outcome, when it's quite obvious I was not talking about outcome.

If anything I've said is fundamentally incorrect, I invite Bren to correct me. And I ask you: Do you think that merely having a belief, in the absence of evidence or case law stating that belief is religious, means that the belief is religious?

For instance, I believe I'm wearing shoes right now. If my employer decided to fire me because I believe I'm wearing shoes right now, do you think the mere fact that they fired me because I believe I'm wearing shoes right now would be considered by a court as prima facie evidence of religious discrimination? Or do you think that a court would require me to also present some evidence that my belief that I am wearing shoes is part of my religion, or that my employer considered it so, before it would let me proceed with a claim that my employer was committing religious discrimination, and require my employer to present evidence showing otherwise?
So, basically we are in agreement then. Little statements or actions can have a large effects in court. Your example of the mere possession of burglars tools is an even more extreme example. I'd have thought that there would be at least some evidence of intent other than mere possession in your garage or something. Now, if that guy was found outside of a jewelry store, and one of his picks was stuck in the lock, that would be convenient.

Any given day in court, odd things can happen. Damage control is important.
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