Quantifying Reasonable Doubt: A Proposed Solution to an Equal Protection Problem


In this article we present the case that the Reasonable Doubt standard is in urgent need of repair. Our research reveals that a previously-recognized phenomenon arising from vagueness of the standard is more consequential than thus far realized and creates a serious equal protection problem. We show that the only legally feasible solution to this problem is to quantify the definition of the standard. While others have examined quantified standards, we make a direct case for it and overcome previous objections to it by offering a way to make it practical and workable.

The solution we envision will require new legislation – we show that the problem is unlikely to be corrected within the judicial branch. However, we also show that legal flexibility exists at the U.S. Supreme Court level to permit such a change, and furthermore that flexibility probably exists to prevent undue chaos in the system by allowing past verdicts to be “grandfathered.”


Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Law | Law and Society | Legislation | Public Law and Legal Theory

Date of this Version

December 2005