Question

In criminal trials (e.g., murder, robbery, driving while impaired, etc.) in the United States, it must be proven that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be thought of as a very strong unwillingness to convict defendants who are actually innocent. In civil trials (e.g., breach of contract, divorce hearings for alimony, etc.), it must only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is guilty. This makes it easier to prove a defendant guilty in a civil case than in a murder case. In a high-profile pair of cases in the mid 1990s, O. J. Simpson was found to be not guilty of murder in a criminal case against him. Shortly thereafter, however, he was found guilty in a civil case and ordered to pay damages to the families of the victims.
a. In a criminal trial by jury, suppose the probability the defendant is convicted, given guilt, is 0.95 and the probability the defendant is acquitted, given innocence, is 0.95. Suppose that 90% of all defendants truly are guilty. Given that a defendant is convicted, find the probability he or she was actually innocent. Draw a tree diagram or construct a contingency table to help you answer.
b. Repeat part a, but under the assumption that 50% of all defendants truly are guilty.
c. In a civil trial, suppose the probability the defendant is convicted, given guilt is 0.99, and the probability the defendant is acquitted, given innocence, is 0.75. Suppose that 90% of all defendants truly are guilty. Given that a defendant is convicted, find the probability he or she was actually innocent. Draw a tree diagram or construct a contingency table to help you answer.


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  • CreatedSeptember 11, 2015
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