Ann Coulter has an amusing column in which she shreds Bob Shrum, the architect of perennial losing demagogic political campaigns, and Mark Geragos. Like her, I’m amazed that the guy can even get clients, let alone charge them millions of dollars, given his record. The only winning case of his that I can think of is Susan McDougal vs. the Mehtas.
But she makes an interesting point that many people don’t understand:
…even Geragos and Sherman would never sneeringly dismiss evidence in a murder trial as “circumstantial evidence.” Only nonlawyers who imagine they are learning about law from “Court TV” think “circumstantial evidence” means “paltry evidence.” After leaping for the channel clicker for six months whenever the name “Scott Peterson” wafted from the television (on the grounds that in a country of 300 million people, some men will kill their wives), I offer this as my sole contribution to the endless national discussion.
In a murder case, all evidence of guilt other than eyewitness testimony is “circumstantial.” Inasmuch as most murders do not occur at Grand Central Terminal during rush hour, it is not an uncommon occurrence to have murder convictions based entirely on circumstantial evidence. DNA evidence is “circumstantial evidence.” Fingerprints are “circumstantial evidence.” An eyewitness account of the perpetrator fleeing the scene of a stabbing with a bloody knife is “circumstantial evidence.” Please stop referring to “circumstantial evidence” as if it doesn’t count. There’s a name for people who take a dim view of circumstantial evidence because they don’t understand the concept of circumstantial evidence: They’re called “O.J. jurors.”
It occured to me as I read this that “circumstantial evidence” is to the legal world what “theory” is to the scientific. The most reliable evidence, far more than eyewitness testimony, is circumstantial, and theories are the stuff that science is made of, but one would never know that to hear them denigrated by creationists. In fact, the evolution debate is a perfect example of exactly what Coulter is describing here, in which the circumstantial evidence for evolution via natural selection is overwhelming, but much of the nation are OJ jurors, because no one has caught a dog in the act of having kittens.
Just as few murders occur, as she says, during rush hour in Grand Central, the vast majority of the fossil record is lost to us as well (though there’s enough to see “transition species,” since all species are transition species). But since that’s only “circumstantial evidence” of something that’s only a “theory,” it’s unlikely that we will ever find enough evidence to satisfy people who don’t even understand how science works, or want to. And in light of that, here is a brave and admirable man.
Colling… finds a place for God in evolution by positing a