Ultimately, this article is about how well different definitions of reasonable doubt fit society's goals for the criminal justice system. To be clear, this article is not about which definition is best. That question is far broader than the one I seek to explore. Determining what definition of reasonable doubt is best for the system is a question for another time. Rather, this article describes a few different ways that reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence can be interpreted and considers the implications of applying those differing interpretations. Part II of this article examines how the criminal justice system employs skepticism to determine guilt accurately. Part III explains how strict and relaxed applications of the reasonable doubt standard and the presumption of innocence impacts jury verdicts. Part IV suggests that we adopt a meaning for reasonable doubt that matches society's goals for the justice system. The criminal justice system uses skepticism in the form of reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence to determine who is imprisoned. The question remains: Could the system allow jurors to use the wrong amount of skepticism?
Henry L. Chambers, Jr., Reasonable Certainty and Reasonable Doubt, 81 Marq. L. Rev. 655 (1998).