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To question or hold questionable. Uncertainty of mind; the absence of a settled opinion or conviction; the attitude of mind toward the acceptance of or belief in a proposition, theory, or statement, in which the judgment is not at rest but inclines alternately to either side.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is not beyond all possible or imaginary doubt, but such proof as precludes every reasonable hypothesis except that which it tends to support. It is proof to a moral certainty, that is, such proof as satisfies the judgment and consciences of the jury, as reasonable people and applying their reason to the evidence before them, that the crime charged has been committed by the defendant, and so satisfies them as to leave no other reasonable conclusion possible.

A Reasonable Doubt is such a doubt as would cause a reasonable and prudent person in the graver and more important affairs of life to pause and hesitate to act upon the truth of the matter charged. It does not mean a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs, and depending on moral evidence, is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DOUBT. The uncertainty which exists in relation to a fact, a proposition, or other thing; or it is an equipoise of the mind arising from an equality of contrary reasons. Ayl. Pand. 121.
     2. The embarrassing position of a judge is that of being in doubt, and it is frequently the lot of the wisest and most enlightened to be in this condition, those who have little or no experience usually find no difficulty in deciding the most, problematical questions.
     3. Some rules, not always infallible, have been adopted in doubtful cases, in order to arrive at the truth. 1. In civil cases, the doubt ought to operate against him, who having it in his power to prove facts to remove the doubt, has neglected to do so. In cases of fraud when there is a doubt, the presumption of innocence (q.v.) ought to remove it. 2. In criminal cases, whenever a reasonable doubt exists as to the guilt of the accused that doubt ought to operate in his favor. In such cases, particularly, when the liberty, honor or life of an individual is at stake, the evidence to convict ought to be clear, and devoid of all reasonable doubt. See Best on Pres. Sec. 195; Wils. on Cir. Ev. 26; Theory of Presumptive Proof, 64; 33 How. St. Tr. 506; Burnett, Cr. Law of Scotl. 522; 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 1 D'Aguesseau, Oeuvres, vol. xiii. p. 242; Domat, liv. 3, tit. 6.
     4. No judge is presumed to have any doubt on a question of law, and he cannot therefore refuse to give a judgment on that account. 9 M. R. 355; Merlin, Repert. h.t.; Ayliffe's Pand. b. 2, t. 17; Dig. lib. 34, t. 5; Code, lib. 6, t. 38. Indeed, in some countries; in China, for example, ignorance of the law in a judge is punishable with blows. Penal Laws of China, B. 2, s. 61.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Furthermore, party leader Hamdi would have a doubtable past, he is said to have collaborated with the former dictatorial regime.
Only in the country can I say this with a certain smartness though doubtable (meditating in clatter).
Inversely, their responsibility is doubtable, notably at the Senegal-Guinea Bissau border where political and administrative authorities, and to a less extent security forces, are overshadowed by civil society.
However, the ownership of broadcasting rights installed by the CFA itself is doubtable. Firstly, of most football powers in Europe, the clubs' ownership of broadcasting rights has been recognized by legislation or courts awards, football associations or federations assuming at most the status of co-owner of the broadcasting rights.
My dear ones, the Iranian nation, July 12 was an epic election and it was registered in history, although some enemies in the world tried to undermine this definite victory, to lower it to a dubious and doubtable victory.
Any contact with reality creates contact with doubtable ideas (Newbigin, 1995).
Beset by the radically doubtable nature of memory, belief, experience, and environment, both set about testing the possibility of, as Company puts it, "what can be verified," in a spirit of rigorous skepticism which includes at its center a crucial element of self-doubt.
This reluctance only serves to further mark his doubtable free will and existence.
With a little luck, this Best Of will redress the balance, for it's doubtable that anyone could hear such life affirming songs as Born In The '70s and She Fell Into My Arms and not immediately fall in love with them.
These men of doubtable wisdom suggest that the League introduce WAGE controls.