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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 ?
Doubtless she has used the service herself and is aware of the degree of overcrowding on the service at rush hours and has a plan to ensure that travellers from south-west Birmingham do not have to endure even more unpleasant journeys than they do already.
Calls for government intervention to help Harland and Wolff will doubtless clash with the laissez-faire dogma of the Tory Party but this must be swept aside if the manufacturing heart of Belfast is not be dealt a deadly blow.
Then the Government starts talking about giving them honours, and doubtless the CBEs and OBEs are being polished as we speak.
Equally doubtless, the electorate may vote for her again, "in the fullness of time, when the climate is right..."
But it is the Kind of dedication, putting in those miles, which when twinned with natural talent, has doubtless helped Longwood Harriers produce some of the town's best runners.
A 16th century physician once said of strawberries, 'Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.' This was, of course, in praise not of what we eat today but the wild strawberry now far less common due to habitat destruction caused in part by farming methods on a scale never imagined in the 16th century.
While militant atheists such as Stephen Hawking will doubtless rejoice at closing in on the physical prime-mover particle, people of faith will doubtless ask, "Who's the prime mover behind the Higgs particle?"
Their flash tailoring, their fine dining and selfindulgent ways will appeal to fans of the upper crust Tories - but will doubtless give everyone else cause to ensure that whatever they do at the next general election, they don't vote Tory.
As TV critic Kevin O'Sullivan will doubtless agree, the only way to shake up EastEnders is with some believable plots.
Lovely Natalie Gulbis has been leading the Yanks' bid for glory in the last two days and will doubtless again be the focus of attention when plays gets under way.
Doubtless, Golden's book will win more advocates to her cause, the belief that "we do not need more programs to change these young people's lives, but rather programs to change an oppressive social order."
The affair is doubtless galling for the notoriously press-shy Anschutz, who had the British press camped on his Aspen doorstep last week.