Unreasonable, reasonable doubt?

James Studdard is an attorney who puts his money on the well, not the Courts. He may be reached, if absolutely necessary, at studlaw2000@yahoo.com.

As an attorney practicing law (and defending alleged criminals), for 40 years I have heard the definition of “Reasonable Doubt” given to a jury hundreds of times. Below is verbatim what judges in almost all jurisdictions tell the jury about reasonable doubt.
A reasonable doubt means just what it says. It is a doubt of a fair-minded, impartial juror honestly seeking the truth. It is a doubt based upon common sense and reason. It does not mean a vague or arbitrary doubt, but it is a doubt for which a reason can be given arising from a consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or any combination of these. There is no burden of proof upon the defendant whatsoever, and the burden never shifts to the defendant to prove his innocence.
If, after giving consideration to all of the facts and circumstances of this case, your minds are wavering, unsettled, or unsatisfied, then that is a doubt of the law, and you should acquit the defendant. But if no doubt exists in your minds about the guilt of the accused, then you will be authorized to convict the defendant. If the State fails to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it would be your duty to acquit the defendant.
The above-italicized statement of law is what the jury in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case, and in virtually all criminal cases, is told about reasonable doubt.  Without dwelling on the innocence or guilt of Cosby, let me though, set the scene. Here is a 79 year old icon, affectionately known as “America’s Dad.” On the other hand you have his accuser, Andrea Constand, who just happened to be in Cosby’s house one evening. Not sure why. In any event, she alleges that Cosby gave her three pills to help her relax, then assaulted her. As an aside, these pills were given to her over 12 years ago. Only now does she come forward to complain. You decide the case.
Enough about the Cosby case. Here is the unadulterated content of my typical interview with an alleged criminal, hereinafter called “C.”
Me: Now, Mr. C, I understand you are charged with Rape. Before we get into the facts of the case, let me give you a reality check about our judicial system.  First, I do not give a whit if you raped this girl or not. My job is not to judge. I don’t mean to sound insensitive to the alleged victim; it’s just that it has no relevance to the case. Let me explain. In a courtroom, there is no such thing as a truth or a lie. These are merely abstract terms. Truth or lies are determined by a jury based upon which party, the prosecutor or defense attorney, produces the best scenario. Their verdict can make the truth a lie or a lie the truth. For example, we all know with reasonable certainty that O.J.Simpon murdered two people. The jury found him not guilty; therefore, O.J. did not kill two people.  Why? Because the jury said so. End of story. However, that does not, from an ecclesiastical perspective, make him innocent; it only makes him not guilty. Big difference.
C: Okay, okay, so I raped the girl. You think we can beat the rap? I mean, like she was a tramp, been with a lot of dudes. I can get two, maybe three guys who will claim she threatened to holler rape on them.
Me: Interesting. Well, let’s get down to business and see if we can find some areas of reasonable doubt here, something a jury can hang their hat on.
C: Alright! What do you want me to say?
Oscar Wilde once said, “You may sometimes find truth at the bottom of a well, but rarely will you find it in a court of law.” And so it goes.

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