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Q & A

Here are some common questions related to the Simpson case, and their answers:

How could Simpson be liable in civil court if he was acquitted at the criminal trial? Isn’t that double jeopardy?

The systems serve different purposes: Criminal courts protect the public and defend society’s laws by putting bad guys behind bars; civil cases allow individual victims to seek compensation from those who have wronged them. The Goldman and Brown families were not represented in the criminal trial--and had no chance to select attorneys or shape strategy--and retained the right to bring civil lawsuits regardless of criminal verdicts.

Why is it easier to win a verdict in civil court?

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Before taking away a defendant’s liberty, prosecutors in a criminal case must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the verdict must be unanimous.

* In civil court, the stakes are much lower and so is the burden of proof. A plaintiff can win financial compensation just by showing that the defendant probably caused harm. In California, just nine of the 12 jurors must agree for a verdict to be reached.

* To win punitive damages in a civil case, plaintiffs must meet a higher standard, proving by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted maliciously.


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