It is an established principle that the burden of proof in a criminal prosecution lies on the prosecution. A defendant may remain silent and be acquitted if the case against him is insufficient.
There is something a reversal of burden, however, in a quo warranto case, one in which the government, after meeting a threshold of likelihood, challenges the right of someone to hold office; the burden of proof lies with the office holder. Courts have ruled, however, that only the government may bring a quo warranto suit, and those made by private individuals have been summarily rejected by the courts.
That said, should some part of the government bring a quo warranto action against President Obama, would he be obliged to prove his eligibility? Perhaps not. I refer here to a case of the State of Vermont v. S. Hollister Jackson from the Supreme Court of Vermont in 1907, where the eligibility of the states attorney of Washington County was challenged because, it was claimed, he was not a citizen at the time of his election to office.
This is a petition for a writ of quo warranto to test the right of the respondent to hold the office of state’s attorney of Washington county. As the case is presented, the only question for our determination is: Was Mr. Jackson a citizen of the United States at the time of his election to the office in 1904? It is said that we were not in harmony with the authorities when we held, in State ex rel. Danforth v. Hunton, 28 Vt. 594. that in these proceedings persons in possession of an office are presumed to be regularly elected and entitled to hold until the contrary appears; and that the true rule is that in such cases the burden is on the respondent to show legal title to the office [see source for citations]…
However this may be, we regard it of no importance in this case as the citizenship of the respondent is presumed. This presumption arises from the mere fact of his residence here [see source for citations]… It was this rule which Judge Redfield had in mind when he said in Blood v Crandall 28 Vt at page 400 that the general presumption is in favor of citizenship.
The details of the case (which was dismissed) are not of particular interest to the Obama question since Mr. Jackson was not born in the United States.