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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 ?
She was talked into the holiday but was dubious of leaving her children.
Nabiullina said that USD39bn of funds had left the country as part of dubious operations in 2012, and another USD22m had exited in the first three quarters of the year.
'Let's have proof, not statistics based on very dubious science.'
3799) which would prevent federal courts from even hearing cases involving government acknowledgment of "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty or government." (Legal scholars say such "court stripping" measures are of dubious constitutionality.)
Heaven protects herself by taking self-defense lessons but then begins working in a bar with late hours and dubious clientele.
An unpublished final draft of a white paper they produced includes what the Post describes as some of the first known instances of dubious statements that later ande it into public speeches by President Bush and other senior administration officials, including Bush's claim that Iraq sought so-called "yellowcake" uranium from Africa.
BRISTOL City boss Danny Wilson admitted his side had benefited from a dubious decision to take the lead.
A floater coffee is a floater coffee; I fail to see what is dubious about that.
The American Psychiatric Association not only stopped listing homosexuality as a disorder in 1973 but stated in 1990 that supposed therapies to control or change sexual orientation "do more harm than good." But Nicolosi, a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist, is president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a group that gay activists have long charged is an arm of the antigay religions right, using dubious science to disguise its moralism.
He also warned that dubious moves are made to confront Islam, Christianity and the West, and said terrorist acts are far removed from the precepts of any religion (Zenit, Oct 16/01).
Like stuffed crust pizzas, this stuffed ring has the dubious distinction of making regular pizza look virtuous.