I have often wondered how much evidence it takes to convince someone “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a standard we are all used to hearing. It is a standard throughout the United States. But just how much evidence is needed? It got me thinking.
In all probability, it is a different standard to many people. Some would say “that doubt is not reasonable” and others would say “it is to me.” Recently, Johnson & Johnson came upon a setback with their Covid vaccine. It was reported that 4 people died and 15 were hospitalized directly because they took the vaccine. There was a recall and then the risk/benefit was analyzed and it was put back on the market. It seemed to negatively affect more women than men. So here’s the dilemma: the parents of a 13-year-old daughter are being offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for her. Many would argue that statistically it is safe and there is little “doubt” that she will receive a negative and severe reaction. To others, however, there is a “reasonable doubt” and they would elect not to vaccinate their daughter with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Who is right? It all depends. Some people will look at statistics and then employ the word reasonable. To others, a risk, even a small one, is not something they are willing to take.
So when jurors are asked if there is sufficient evidence to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of a fellow citizen, you can expect this type of debate. Sometimes jurors can agree on reasonable doubt and come to a verdict. Other times, people feel strongly about their commitment and a verdict is just not in the cards.