Chapter One - Mishna 8 (2)

While the litigants are standing before you treat them both as if they are pleading falsely
He continues telling judges: "When two people come to court with their case, think of them as both guilty; and when they leave and have accepted your decision, think of them as both innocent."

How can this be? We just learned that we should give a person the "benefit of the doubt". Why not look at both people as good? The mishnah is teaching a Jew the right way to think. In court a person must prove his case. By looking at both people as if they are guilty, the judge will ask many questions and make absolutely sure that the person has proven his case. After they accept the decision, the judge looks at each person and give both the "benefit of the doubt". He considers them both innocent.

The Pirkei Avos series was developed by Pirchei Shoshanim