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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 ?
As Dufault and Martocchio (1985) found in their research with cancer patients, study participants experienced nervousness, doubtfulness, vulnerability, and sadness along with feelings of happiness, optimism, and energy.
In Polanski's film, Macduff's important line, "He has no children" (4.3.218), spoken after the prince has counseled him to convert his grief to vengeance, refers to Malcolm rather than, as common in many productions, to Macbeth and so helps to call attention to the continuing doubtfulness of the royal succession should a childless king manage to displace a childless tyrant.
Uncertainty acclimatisation refers to the adaptations and responses, psychological and material, that individual entrepreneurs and firms make to the evolving perceived uncertainties of foreign operations, enabling them to operate within the constraining effects of doubtfulness and apprehension that ensue from the sense of the unknown.
Whatever else James took from Vanity Fair in his lifelong relationship with the novel, this emphasis on the fallibility or doubtfulness of the supposedly authoritative voice seems to me to be crucial.
In some cases participant's accounts also reflected doubtfulness about the validity of participants' perceptions and opinions about Centrepoint.
(225) Heron Bay appealed to the Tax Court where the judge concluded that the loan did not meet two of the criteria for doubtfulness. (226) Heron Bay appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal.
The third limitation of the TMD lies in the doubtfulness of its interceptor capabilities.
However, opposition members already showed doubtfulness of whether the government could translate the demands into actions.
'"The Odium of Doubtfulness'; or, The Vicissitudes of Metaphorical Thinking." New German Critique 36.1 (Winter): 61-81.
It implies doubtfulness about non-empirical experience, such as that which In Memoriam ventured.
Doubtfulness does not relate only to depth and duration of crisis; future of world economic order which main attribute was free flow of capital and services is also uncertain.
But his doubtfulness seems to have been overtaken by events, namely the Gadahn indictment wherein the government has conceptualized Al Qaeda as an "enemy." See Law, Loyalty, and Treason, supra note 88 at 1612.