Someone has posted somewhere that an Egyptian man had been arrested and jailed in USA around 1996. At the time, a crime took place in New York, and the criminal ran by him, telling him to run. Out of fright, he ran while not knowing what was going on. He was caught instead of the real criminal. He was later found not guilty and set free. The woman then reports the guy has been suffering a psychological trauma ever since and wanted to know if it was possible to seek compensation. I posted the following in reply:

The man will probably not be entitled to any compensation because there is no legislation requiring states to compensate a defendant who has been found not guilty. States in the US have prosecutorial immunity against such claims. However, compensation might be possible if there had been a serious breach or misconduct on the part of the judge, prosecuter or police. Examples of such misconduct would be holding the defendant in custody for an excessively long period of time, forced confession, battery or any other blatantly illegal practices. So unless the said psychological trauma that the man experienced was the direct result of misconduct capable of being proven, he won't be able to win a lawsuit against the city of NY, neither will he manage to "mobilize" public opinion or excite media outlets.

When I read my reply again, I felt proved might actually be just as good or even better. But I'm not sure.

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    Usually, a person is capable of this or that. Misconduct is not "capable" of anything. Wouldn't you agree? I would express it thus: Unless the psych. trauma the man experienced resulted directly from provable misconduct [etc.] – Lambie Dec 10 '17 at 17:49
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    Why not just say that can actually be proved? – Michael Rybkin Dec 10 '17 at 17:51
  • Sure, but it's longer. – Lambie Dec 10 '17 at 17:55
  • @Lambie, You're totally right, and your suggestion is much better. I don't know what forced this construction into my memory and writing. Perhaps, I once read it in a legal text or something. But I'm not sure. – Sara Dec 10 '17 at 17:58

You could say was demonstrably the direct result of misconduct instead of "was the direct result of misconduct capable of being proven".

  • Not sure that legally that to demonstrate and to prove are the same thing. – Lambie Dec 10 '17 at 18:00
  • @Lambie: That which is demonstrably the result of X is that which can be proven to be the result of X. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 10 '17 at 18:05
  • As regards, the law or laws, to prove something is not to demonstrate it. In law, you present evidence to prove your case. You don't present evidence to demonstrate your case. Legally, the two are not equivalent, only other contexts. – Lambie Dec 10 '17 at 18:25
  • @Lambie: The words demonstrable and demonstrably are routinely used in the United States Code. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 10 '17 at 21:16
  • You are not getting what I am saying at all. I wonder if you are doing it on purpose. In a COURT OF LAW (not in the laws), you have to prove misconduct; you don't demonstrate there was misconduct. So, in that SENSE, demonstrable and provable are not interchangeable. – Lambie Dec 11 '17 at 0:10

Except as an attributive adjective (where "proven" is preferred), "proved" is the more traditional choice. However, "proven" is equally acceptable nowadays.

From Oxford:

Both are correct and can be used more or less interchangeably (this hasn't been proved yet; this hasn't been proven yet). In British English proved is more common, with the exception that proven is always used when the word is an adjective coming before the noun: a proven talent, not a proved talent.

From Merriam-Webster:

[Proven] was disapproved by 19th century grammarians, one of whom included it in a list of "words that are not words." Surveys made some 50 or 60 years ago indicated that proved was about four times as frequent as proven. But our evidence from the last 30 or 35 years shows this no longer to be the case. As a past participle proven is now about as frequent as proved in all contexts.


From Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Ed.

proved; proven. Proved has long been the preferred past participle of prove. But proven often ill-advisedly appears. In AmE, proven, like stricken, properly exists only as an adjective. Proven has survived as a past participle in legal usage in two phrases: first, in the phrase innocent until proven guilty; second, in the verdict Not proven, a jury answer no longer widely used except in Scots law. As for Not proven, one writer has defined this verdict as meaning, “Not guilty, but don’t do it again.

From American Heritage Dictionary 4th Ed.

Prove has two past participles: proved and proven. Proved is the older form. Proven is a variant. Proven was originally used in Scottish legal contexts, such as The jury ruled that the charges were not proven. In the 20th century, proven has made inroads into the territory once dominated by proved, so that now the two forms compete on equal footing as participles. However, when used as an adjective before a noun, proven is now the more common word: a proven talent.

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