U.S. Constitution: Although not explicitly stated in the Constitution the following is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th amendments:
A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt, in a court of law.
The reason it is so important to maintain this mindset throughout any trial is due to something we all possess called “confirmation bias”. Confirmation Bias (according to Wikipedia) “is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypothesis. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.”
Since we are all prone to confirmation bias, in order that we do not so easily convict innocent people, we are asked to err on the side of innocence. Those who decided Jodi was guilty before the trial even began were prone to see everything through that filter, in that light alone. If they had already decided she was a pathological liar then they were going to look for, and surely find, some insignificant piece of evidence (such as a missing gas can return receipt) to validate that belief. Even if they decided she was guilty halfway through the trial, that’s not what our justice system requires. It demands that we listen to and view every piece of evidence from the solid belief and viewpoint that the defendant is innocent. And no matter how many times the defendant has previously lied, we are required to view everything the defendant tells us while under oath as plausible until proven otherwise beyond any reasonable doubt. And we owe this not only to the defendant but to our Constitution, to our justice system and to ourselves.
HLN decided she was guilty long before the trial started (which is doubly deplorable since many of them are lawyers who once swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States) and then every day and every night for five months they spewed hate and vitriol for mass consumption by their viewing public. They cherry-picked anything and everything that fit their already determined verdict of guilt and ignored or downplayed anything that didn’t fit that verdict. And then every night they impaneled a mock jury who voted her guilty after being fed unsubstantiated, unproven hearsay that HLN called “facts”. At this point many who believe they followed the case don’t know what they heard directly in court and what they heard from Nancy Grace, Vinnie Politan, Jane Velez-Mitchell or Dr. Drew, but they truly believe they know the facts about this case.
Those who gave Jodi the constitutional courtesy of presuming her innocent (and presuming she told the truth under oath, in spite of any earlier lying due to understandable stress, shame, embarrassment and fear) saw an entirely different trial than those who did not give her that courtesy. Those who chose to give her the constitutional benefit of the doubt demanded that the State prove that her version could not have happened the way she said it did, not just, “well, we know she’s lying so no other proof is required.”
Arizona Law (and 22 other states): In a self-defense case the burden is on the State to prove that it WAS NOT self-defense. In Jodi’s case, the burden of proof was unfairly reversed and it fell upon her shoulders to prove that it WAS self-defense. Many believe that Jodi needed to prove that Travis attacked her but that is backwards from what the law demands. There was absolutely no proof that Jodi initiated the violence (with much evidence to the contrary) and that is exactly what the State was required to prove.