Do We Need a Calculus of Weight to Understand Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

14 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2014

See all articles by David H. Kaye

David H. Kaye

PSU - Penn State Law (University Park); ASU - College of Law & School of Life Sciences

Date Written: 1986

Abstract

The commentary on a paper by L.J. Cohen, prepared for a symposium on probability and inference in the law of evidence, shows that the legal requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt can be understood simply as demanding a sufficiently high probability that the prosecution's narrative or story of the facts, which captures all the elements of the offense, is true. No separate measure of the "weight" of the totality of the evidence is required to understand the burden of persuasion. Any incompleteness in the evidence can be accounted for by a conditional probability that includes the presence of any gaps between the evidence that a juror reasonably would expect to hear and the evidence that is presented.

Keywords: evidence, probability, Bayes, burden of persuasion, reasonable doubt, Keynes, weight of evidence

JEL Classification: C11

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H., Do We Need a Calculus of Weight to Understand Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? (1986). Boston University Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 3-4, 1986, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2426846

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

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