July 06, 2011

Defining "Reasonable"

From Marcia Clark:
Jury instructions are so numerous and complex, it’s a wonder jurors ever wade through them. And so it should come as no surprise that they can sometimes get stuck along the way. The instruction on circumstantial evidence is confusing even to lawyers. And reasonable doubt? That’s the hardest, most elusive one of all. And I think it’s where even the most fair-minded jurors can get derailed.

How? By confusing reasonable doubt with a reason to doubt. Some believe that thinking was in play in the Simpson case. After the verdict was read in the Simpson case, as the jury was leaving, one of them, I was later told, said: “We think he probably did it. We just didn’t think they proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.” In every case, a defense attorney will do his or her best to give the jury a reason to doubt. "Some other dude did it," or "some other dude threatened him." But those reasons don’t necessarily equate with a reasonable doubt. A reason does not equal reasonable. Sometimes, that distinction can get lost.

3 comments:

roalgeroc said...

Thought you might enjoy this article, if you haven't already read it:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303544604576429783247016492.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook

Terrence Berres said...

From what's quoted, the juror got it right. If this was a civil case with the usual preponderance of evidence standard, being convinced "he probably did it" would be enough. If beyond a reasonable doubt is a higher standard, it requires the jury be convinced to a greater certainty than that.

TS said...

I guess i just have too much of this Old West/John Wayne standard of justice where Casey Anthony would"ve been hung after a 15 minute jury deliberation. It just seems like we over think things sometimes but that's likely emotion, not thought, talking.