Burden

Burden

Burden of Proof

To start with, proof gets defined around “evidence that convinces.” The burden of proof refers to whomever owns the onus. Onus, in turn, in this case, names the parties responsible for providing that evidence. In a civil court, where trials will be about assertion of denial (of benefits, rights, ownership, etc. or positive assertions to claim those same things, both adversaries will be expected to provide support for their claims. The types of claims the adversaries make in all cases are referred to as positive and negative. Positive assertions are those affirming an incident. (“I paid him in full. I have all my receipts” is a positive statement to deny the negating claim, “She still owes me money.”)

Negative assertions are those attempting to negate (deny) a claim. It must be understood that, in a civil suit, negative assertions require a positive response in the form of evidence. That is true because, due to the nature of the materials, it is reasonable to expect evidence to be available. “My lawyer has all my receipts.”

Criminal courts, for logical reasons, are tied to a different standard of onus. Since only positive assertions generate evidence with the rare exceptions met in civil cases, negating assertions cannot be expected to produce an evidence trail. The accusing side, in criminal cases, always bears the onus to prove guilt; the accused is assumed “innocent until proved guilty”. “I am innocent” equates with “I did not do it,” a negating assertion of denial. The only negating evidence that can trump whatever the accusers assert is proof of her presence elsewhere at the time the crime or incident occurred.

Keep that important point in mind. Proof of presence is necessary.

What constitutes evidence and what does not? Proof is always derived from evidence that can be verified.

  • Firsthand witness testimony constitutes evidence; hearsay accounts are only gossip.

  • Signed and notarized documents, signed documents recognized as official may be evidence; unsigned documents and those executed on plain paper may be considered forgeries and rejected.

  • Evidence in hand”, artifacts recognized as pertinent to the case or discussion may be evidence; unverifiable anecdotes about such artifacts are not.

  • A relevant experiment that demonstrates a point or prediction produces evidence that can be verified. Unverifiable assertions are never evidence.

  • Any concrete response to a “Show me” challenge, whether it affirms or negates, may be considered as evidence. Failure to respond to a “Show me” challenge shows the challenged assertion to be untestable for so long as the challenge goes unanswered. The assertion will be regarded, at most, as an opinion until such a time may arrive that the necessary demonstration can be made. Science advances by sticking with this process, even though generations may come and go between the challenge and demonstration.

  • Negating assertions, referred to as “negative statements”, are those that belie, deny, dispute, disaffirm, or contradict accusations, assertions or claims about an action, deed, consequence or event requiring a named presence, known or not, as its cause.

  • Affirming assertions, referred to as “positive statements”, aid, defend, support and display concern that the assertion be believed of the guilt, existence or presence at the event referenced in a claim in such a way that she could reasonably be assumed guilty, or a contributor.

    • Here, again where it is unreasonable to expect evidence to be available, the onus remains the property of the side making the positive assertions.

  • In science, the setting aside of untestable assertions is called “abeyance”, which means to set them aside and regard them as frivolous until a meaningful test has been developed. Science, a very frugal and conservative discovery process, does not waste ideas, nor will it waste more time and resources than necessary on bad ones.

Therefore, even in a civil court, as the foregoing demonstrates, the claimant making a positive assertion bears the entire burden to provide proof. Doubters have no responsibility for another’s assertions. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” sounds pretty, but is only meaningless jibberjabber that won’t stand up in court — even if allowed to go to trial.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE

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