Grave doubts about "reasonable doubt": Confusion in state and federal courts
The United States Supreme Court, in the companion cases Victor v. Nebraska and Sandoval v. California (114 S.Ct. 1239, 1994) attempted for the third time in recent years to determine what constitutes a constitutionally sufficient definition of the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This legal concept is familiar to lawyers and laypersons alike, but its precise meaning is unclear. This article examines the history of reasonable doubt and analyzes the various definitions used in state courts and the thirteen federal Courts of Appeal. The various definitions are classified and categorized to determine commonalities. The study finds that reasonable doubt needs to be defined more precisely and suggests a way whereby this can be done. It suggests that the United States Supreme Court provide a clearer definition for use by trial courts.
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Hemmens, Craig, Kathryn E. Scarborough, and Rolando V. Del Carmen. "Grave doubts about 'reasonable doubt': Confusion in state and federal courts." Journal of Criminal Justice 25, no. 3 (1997): 231-254.
Journal of Criminal Justice