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Comparison of standards: A strategy for explaining proof beyond a reasonable doubt
By Thomas Lundy
Jury Instruction columns.
Because the reasonable doubt standard may be difficult to define, and in some courts no definition is given at all, one possible approach is to compare the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard with the lesser standards of preponderance of the evidence and clear and convincing evidence.
A comparison of burdens is a common and accepted method of distinguishing between the preponderance and clear and convincing standards. See e.g., Federal Judicial Center, PATTERN CRIMINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS 21 [Definition Of Reasonable Doubt] (1988) (comparing burden in civil trial); OREGON UNIFORM CRIMINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS, UCrJI 1001 [General Instructions-Introduction] 4. (Oregon State Bar, 1998 ); SOUTH DAKOTA PATTERN JURY INSTRUCTIONS — CRIMINAL, SDCL 1-5-1 [Burden Of Proof] (State Bar of South Dakota, 2000); MISSISSIPPI MODEL JURY INSTRUCTIONS — CRIMINAL, MJI-Criminal C:1:8 [Burden Of Proof; Evidentiary Matters — Reasonable Doubt] (West, 2000). There is no reason why the comparison model shouldn'
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