Residual Doubt

“Residual Doubt” is a mitigating circumstance, sometimes used and urged before the jury in the United States and, generally, not found favour by the various courts in the United States. In Franklin v. Lynaugh, 101 L Ed 2d 155: 487 US 164 (1988), while dealing with the death sentence, the Court held as follows:
“The petitioner also contends that the sentencing procedures followed in his case prevented the jury from considering, in mitigation of sentence, any ‘residual doubts’ it might have had about his guilt. The petitioner uses the phrase ‘residual doubts’ to refer to doubts that may have lingered in the minds of jurors who were convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but who were not absolutely certain of his guilt.”
In California v. Brown, 93 L Ed 2d 934 : 479 US 538 (1987), and other cases, the US courts took the view, “residual doubt” is not a fact about the defendant or the circumstances of the crime, but a lingering uncertainty about facts, a state of mind that exists somewhere between “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “absolute certainty”. Ashok Debbarma v. State of Tripura, (2014) 4 SCC 747.

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