Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dan LeBatard never took Evidence

Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald is not a lawyer. But I often complain that when the mainstream media tries to talk about law, they invariably get it wrong. Today,  LeBatard tried to urge patience as allegations swirl around UM's football team, with some genuinely incoherent comments about law.

First, he says that "Circumstantial evidence is not actual evidence." Umm, yes, it is. We know that, because, as a blogger for The Big Lead says, it says "evidence" right there in the phrase. And in any event, the evidence against UM is not circumstantial. Someone with firsthand knowledge (Shapiro) is stating the things he did (giving players money and other gifts, etc.) and those things violate NCAA rules. That is as direct as evidence can get.

Later, LeBatard says "precious little of what we’ve seen amid this noise so far can be considered truth, evidence, facts." Again, this is wrong on many levels. What we have been hearing are, indeed, facts--assertions or propositions about events that have happened in the world (e.g., "I gave money to UM football players"). And it is evidence--information by someone with knowledge offered to establish the truth of those assertions or propositions. Is it truth? That we do not know (although each of us is free to reach our own conclusions for now) and that ultimately will be for some fact-finder, whoever it turns out to be. But doubting the truth of facts does not mean they are not facts; disbelieving some evidence does not mean it is not evidence.