Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Circling around Reasonable Doubt

In part of its opinion in Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1 (1994), the Supreme Court of the United States approved the following line of reasoning:
Question: What level of proof is required for conviction of crime?
Answer: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 
Question: Does a showing of a "strong probability" of criminal guilt constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt?
Answer: Under some circumstances. 
Question: Under what circumstances?
Answer: When the probability is so strong that it excludes reasonable doubt.
Except to the extent that the Court acknowledges that probabilities (of some kind and in some way) can figure in the trier's assessment of criminal guilt, the Court's reasoning has an Alice-in-Wonderland air:

"It's all very clear, my dear: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that removes all reasonable doubt. Why are you troubled by this self-evident proposition?"


The dynamic evidence page
It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

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