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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 ?
It comes as no surprise, then, that Hecht titles her last chapter "The Joy of Doubt." She has been out to celebrate the "saints of doubt, martyrs of atheism, and sages of happy disbelief." Reflecting on the many deep similarities between believers and doubters, she suggests that until now doubters lacked only one resource that was available to believers: "a sense that people like themselves have always been around, that they are part of a grand history." Hecht's book has indeed filled that gap.
Internet websites and blogs have subjected a number of different media to their reactions as believers, doubters, apathetic or hostile listeners.
"The hunger is there and I want to prove the doubters wrong.
"Everybody has got their doubters. I have probably got more than most, but it doesn't really bother me.
They must be absolutely loyal to the CEO and the company and finally, they must be willing to explain the strategy, and its implications, to any doubters within the organisation.
This compares with 42 percent of "cautious clock-watchers," 22 percent of "day-to-day embracers," and 7 percent of "doubters."
"I think we all try not to listen to the doubters, but it has motivated us to put ourselves in a position to do something," said Grix.
And the striker believes the victory will have silenced the doubters.
Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged his players to beat Barcelona in the Champions League final - and finally silence their doubters.
Melbourne, Mar 31(ANI): New Australian skipper Michael Clarke accepts that he has never been the most popular player among his country's cricket fans, but believes he can win over his doubters.
"There were doubters about devolution but I honestly believe the doubters have been proved wrong."
Back in 2001, the same negative doubters refused unity between Dr.