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Scott Guy Verdict: Survey reveals journalists don’t have a clue

By Steven | July 12, 2012

According to a recent poll, 48% of us think it’s likely that Ewen Macdonald killed Scott Guy. Only 20% of us think it’s likely that he was not guilty.

Apparently, the Dominion Post believes that this means that:

…just 20 per cent of people surveyed agreed with Ewen Macdonald being acquitted of slaying Mr Guy outside his rural Feilding home in July 2010.

Of course, it doesn’t mean this at all, as anyone with any elementary knowledge of the justice system would realise.

What the jury found was that the murder charge had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. That’s a lot different to the question of whether it was “likely” that Macdonald was guilty of murdering Guy.

It is entirely possible that every member of that jury thought it was likely that Ewen Macdonald killed Scott Guy. And it’s possible that they didn’t. We don’t know.

We also don’t know how many members of the public think it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that Macdonald was guilty. It’s quite possible that most of those who told the pollster that they think Macdonald is guilty¬†actually¬†agree with the jury that it wasn’t proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Even if they didn’t, defence lawyer Greg King is quite right to say that the statistic would not mean much given that the public haven’t seen all the evidence.

This story somehow spins the poll into a suggestion that the jury got it wrong, or that 48% of the public public disagree with the outcome. Someone should shoot this messenger.

Topics: Media ethics | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Scott Guy Verdict: Survey reveals journalists don’t have a clue”

  1. Graeme Edgeler Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Where’s the Blogging Standards Authority when you need one?

  2. Lawrence Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    How about the Scottish approach of allowing the jury to return a verdict of “Not Proven”? The Court and the public will then be in doubt as to the mind of the jury.

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