65 Okla. L. Rev. 225 (2012-2013)
A Reasonable Doubt about Reasonable Doubt

handle is hein.journals/oklrv65 and id is 241 raw text is: A REASONABLE DOUBT ABOUT REASONABLE
DOUBT
MILLER W. SHEALY, JR.*
Abstract
The Supreme Court has failed to define the concept of reasonable
doubt with any precision. The Court tolerates conflicting definitions of
reasonable doubt. It permits some jurisdictions to forbid any definition of
reasonable doubt, while giving others wide latitude to define the concept
in ways that are contradictory.
If the Court truly regards the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard
to be an ancient and honored aspect of our criminal justice system,' a
bedrock 'axiomatic and elementary' principle whose 'enforcement lies at
the foundation of the administration of our criminal law,''2 then the Court
cannot continue to tolerate the current state of the law. This article will
explore how this came about and propose a new way forward. In short,
modem courts have lost sight of the origins of reasonable doubt.
Reasonable doubt has roots that stretch back to antiquity. However, we
have lost the sense of reasonable doubt which emphasized the fearsome
and awesome moral responsibility of judging a fellow human being. This
sense of reasonable doubt has deep Judeo-Christian roots, though it is not
limited to this perspective. It is simply a reminder that in judging our fellow
human beings we are dealing with something unique: a being with dignity
and extraordinary worth, a person that is imago dei. It is this sense of
reasonable doubt which we must recapture.
Table of Contents
I. Introduction  ............................................................................................ 226
II. The Federal Courts on Reasonable Doubt ............................................ 230
A . The  Suprem e  C ourt .......................................................................... 230
* Associate Professor of Law, Charleston School of Law, Charleston, South Carolina.
I would like to thank those who reviewed earlier drafts of this article, especially Professor
Larry Laudan. Also, I am grateful to my colleagues Sheila Scheuerman, Margaret Lawton,
Randall Bridwell, Paul Lund, and Jorge Roig for their support and generous counsel. I am
also grateful for the assistance of my research assistants, Edward R. Corvey, Christopher S.
Lietzow, and Stephanie P. Brown. Any mistakes that remain are, as always, my own.
1. Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1, 5 (1994).
2. In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 363 (1970) (quoting Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S.
432, 453 (1895)).

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 2,700 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Access to this content requires a subscription. Please visit the following page to request a quote or trial:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?