0

I was told that with the following instructions the judge asked the jurors to acquit Mr. Stanley. Is that so?

You must not find Gerald Stanley guilty unless you are sure he is guilty. Even if you believe that Mr. Stanley is probably guilty or likely guilty, that is not sufficient. In those circumstances, you must give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Stanley and find him not guilty because the Crown has failed to satisfy you of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

...

If you have a reasonable doubt about Mr. Stanley's guilt arising from the evidence, the absence of the evidence, or the credibility or the reliability of one or more of the witnesses then you must find him not guilty. In short, the presumption of innocence applies at the beginning and continues throughout the trial, unless you are satisfied after considering the whole of the evidence that the Crown has displaced the presumption of innocence by proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

See Shooting of Colten Boushie and full transcript of the instructions.

3

Look in this document, the pattern jury instructions from the Canadian National Judicial Council, at p. 13 for the instructions pertaining to "reasonable doubt", starting with para 4.

Now what does the expression “beyond a reasonable doubt” mean? A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary or frivolous doubt. It is not based on sympathy for or prejudice against anyone involved in the proceedings. Rather, it is based on reason and common sense. It is a doubt that arises logically from the evidence or from an absence of evidence. It is virtually impossible to prove anything to an absolute certainty, and the Crown is not required to do so. Such a standard would be impossibly high. However, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt falls much closer to absolute certainty than to probable guilt. You must not find NOA guilty unless you are sure s/he is guilty. Even if you believe that NOA is probably guilty or likely guilty, that is not sufficient. In those circumstances, you must give the benefit of the doubt to NOA and find him/her not guilty because the Crown has failed to satisfy you of his/her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is the judge's instruction, verbatim, with appropriate names and pronouns inserted. This is the standard explanation of "reasonable doubt" in Canada.

| improve this answer | |
  • this is a very relevant excerpt, so what would be your conclusion? – Yola Jun 15 at 12:03
  • 1
    That the judge instructed the jury to acquit if the Crown failed to satisfy the juror of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. – user6726 Jun 15 at 14:44
3

No

They look like pretty standard jury instructions to me.

The only odd bit is “sure he is guilty” - that’s not what “beyond reasonable doubt means” and, at least in Australia, judges don’t tell jurors what it means, that’s one of the things they have to decide for themselves. However, in context, where the term “reasonable doubt” is clearly used latter, it’s probably ok.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.