There is little doubt that American attitudes are changing about drug use and drug laws. This is especially true of marijuana, which President Obama has even defended as safer than alcohol. Tired of waiting for the federal government to act, many states have begun legalizing marijuana for medical use with some decriminalizing possession of certain amounts.
Imagine losing your spouse and children in a devastating house fire. While trying to process this immense loss, police accuse you of intentionally setting the fire. This was the horror felt by a Midwestern man who spent 26 years in prison for a crime that wasn’t a crime at all.
What constitutes evidence in a criminal trial? More importantly, what constitutes solid and irrefutable evidence? Anyone who has seen any of the dozens of television crime dramas would tell you that forensic science is the objective truth. Sadly, shows like “CSI” are far more fiction than fact – particularly when it comes to the reliability of forensic science.
There is a good reason why the accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In any criminal case where hard evidence is in short supply, there could be a number of narratives constructed to explain the information that is known. But just because an alleged crime could have occurred in a certain way, this alone is not a reason to conclude that it did.