Reasonable Doubt in Tennessee

Shaun Martin and Scott Greenfield have recently commented on most criminal courts’ problem in explaining what is beyond a reasonable doubt . Proof " Beyond A Reasonable Doubt " is the most important protections that a citizen is given in facing criminal charges .Yet , it is  the hardest to explain to jurors and even to other lawyers . I am not aware of any jury instruction that adequately explains the concept.

The current debate of the definition of " Beyond A Reasonable doubt " was sparked by a recent case in the great state of California . California’s a  hotbed of traditional criminal jurisprudence . A temporary judge began with a series of examples of what beyond a reasonable doubt  means . The defendant was convicted and appealed . At the appellate level , the defendant argued that the trial court’s examples lowered the state’s burden of proof by his examples . The California Court of Appeals upheld the conviction . They cited some persuasive authority . In the opinion , the court reminds the trial court to be careful in giving examples . They cite the legal scholars John Lennon and Paul McCartney . The California Court’s suggestion is " To Let It Be" .Here’s Tennessee’s instruction on reasonable doubt .Notice the omission of the term beyond.

T.P.I. — CRIM. 2.03

REASONABLE DOUBT

            Reasonable doubt is that doubt engendered by an investigation of all the proof in the case and an inability, after such investigation, to let the mind rest easily as to the certainty of guilt.  Reasonable doubt does not mean a doubt that may arise from possibility.  Absolute certainty of guilt is not demanded by the law to convict of any criminal charge, but moral certainty is required, and this certainty is required as to every proposition of proof requisite to constitute the offense.

 Continue Reading Can Beyond Reasonable Doubt Be defined ?