At A’s criminal trial in state court, the judge delivers the following instruction to the jury on the meaning of reasonable doubt:
“Reasonable doubt is actual and substantial doubt that causes you to feel unsatisfied to a moral certainty of the guilt of the defendant. However, reasonable doubt is not a surmise, a guess, or mere conjecture. It is not a doubt raised by anyone simply for the sake of raising a doubt. Reasonable doubt is a doubt that, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leads the jurors to lack an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge. The law requires that, after hearing all the evidence, if there is something in the evidence or lack of evidence that leaves in your minds, as reasonable men and women, a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, then the accused must be given the benefit of that doubt and acquitted.”
A challenges the constitutionality of this instruction, contending that it violates his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, A challenges the use of the following two phrases: (1) “actual and substantial doubt” and (2) “moral certainty.”
QuestionWill A’s challenge succeed? Explain, analyzing each argument separately.
Will A’s challenge succeed? Explain, analyzing each argument separately.