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I am glad you are already noting the difference between what you have seen on TV and what is actually the law. Recently many prosecutors have noted something they call the "CSI effect" on their jurors that is leading to many non-convictions at trial. They say because of the proliferation of fictional shows like CSI people now think science can solve any crime without a doubt. And while this is true in some cases, it s not true in many. Most have to be made with circumstantial evidence.
Think back to the Casey Anthony case. Many people were outraged when she was not convicted of murdering her daughter. Many people were upset and confused by the verdict in the case. As some of the jurors have now said, they based their decision on whether the prosecution could prove her guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." They cited things like the lack of a time of death, the coroner's inability to say how the child died, the general lack of any scientific proof linking her to the crime, or even a solid motive on the part of the defendant. They have also said that did not mean they felt she was innocent.So, what does "reasonable doubt" mean? Does it mean any doubt? Does it mean a lot of doubts? Will any alternative theory cause a juror to think twice about a conviction? How can a prosecutor ever prove a case that doesn't have an eye witness or video tape or DNA evidence - a circumstantial case like the Anthony one? Can a juror have a little doubt and still convict if they can sleep at night thinking they made the right decision? What if it is a death penalty case, as this was? Do jurors interpret the term more strictly? Why?