Scenario: John Doe is charged with murder, tried before a jury, and gets a "not guilty" verdict. After the verdict I publish commentary saying that the jury got it wrong and Doe is definitely a murderer. Doe sues me for defamation and attempts to enter as evidence the "not guilty" verdict he got.

What statutes and case law is there on whether or not the verdict can be entered as evidence, and (if it can be entered as evidence) how much weight the jury should place on it?


(if it can be entered as evidence) how much weight the jury should place on it?

None. The "commentary saying that the jury got it wrong" reflects that neither existence nor the sense of the verdict is disputed, whence it would be unavailing for Doe to use the verdict as evidence that he was defamed.

For the verdict to be material to Doe's claim of defamation, the commentary would have to purport that Doe was found guilty or that no verdict has been issued. A portrayal of that sort would be a defamatory falsehood because it omits that a jury already concluded that Doe is innocent.

In Doe's defamation suit, the focus would be on the commentary's discrepancy[-ies] with that verdict. But the verdict in and of itself does not disprove allegations that such verdict is wrong.

  • In the hypothetical the OP also said "Doe is definitely a murderer." How is the fact that no verdict has been issued irrelevant? It's not dispositive, but it can be an evidence that helps prove the falsehood of the statement. – xuhdev Oct 6 '20 at 7:16
  • @xuhdev "How is the fact that no verdict has been issued irrelevant?" (Note: a verdict was issued: Not guilty). Statements "Doe is definitely a murderer" and "the jury got it wrong" are inextricable. The latter statement is a consequence of the former one. This analogy illustrates the matter: If the police says "Doe's speedometer (~ verdict) is wrong and he actually was driving at 80 mph in a 60 mph zone", evidence that Doe's speedometer read 55 mph does not prove whatsoever that he was driving below the speed limit. – Iñaki Viggers Oct 6 '20 at 11:04

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