The Presumption of Innocence in the Trial Setting

21 Pages Posted: 26 May 2015

Date Written: June 2015


The starting frame with which jurors begin trials and the approach which they should take toward the presentation of evidence by the prosecution and defense are distinguished. A robust interpretation of the starting frame, according to which jurors should begin trials by presuming the material innocence of defendants, is defended. Alternative starting frames which are less defendant‐friendly are shown to cohere less well with the notion that criminal trials should constitute stern tests of the government's case against those it has charged with crimes. The intuitive case for the robust presumption of innocence is supplemented with empirical evidence concerning the psychology of belief formation and preservation. Various objections to the proposed starting frame are addressed.

Suggested Citation

Lippke, Richard, The Presumption of Innocence in the Trial Setting (June 2015). Ratio Juris, Vol. 28, Issue 2, pp. 159-179, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Richard Lippke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Department of Criminal Justice
Bloomington, IN
United States
812-856-6049 (Phone)

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