Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

ATTORNEY SAM’S TAKE ON REASONABLE DOUBT AND THE MATTAPAN MASSACRE MURDER MATTER

Well, more information came out regarding the presently hanging jury in the Manhattan Massacre murder matter.

Yesterday, when I posted the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog, I was unaware of the breakdown of the split in the jury panel. Word has it that there is one lone juror who is holding out from the rest of them in the remaining criminal charges.

So what happens now?

“Sam, isn’t this that situation like in the movie 12 Angry Men, where one lone juror is the holdout for “not guilty” and, finally, one by one, all the other jurors come see things his way?”

In Movieland, yes. In reality, probably not.

“So what then? The other jurors come and beat him into submission?”

No, not that either. We would see another criminal case coming out of that…bullying to say the least.

“Do we know what the problem is…what the jurors are arguing about?”

We do apparently. Yesterday, the jury indicated that it might help the deadlock if the judge were to give them, again, the definition of “reasonable doubt”. Therefore, I would imagine that the definition of reasonable doubt is the hang-up.

Well does that tell us anything?”

Yes, I think it does.

Obviously, either one or eleven jurors, to some degree, believe the case as the Commonwealth presented it. The remainder is not convinced enough. That remainder are saying that the defendants’ guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hence, there is a disagreement in the jury room as to what “reasonable doubt” means
The debate as to what reasonable doubt means is not new. It is a bit of a confusing standard and it is kind of “squishy” in definition. It is not exact. It boils down to a doubt to which you can attach a reason. Of course, that reason has to be a reasonable reason.

For this case, let me give you a couple of examples. In my opinion, it would be unreasonable for the reasonable doubt to be that the government’s witness is a involved in a conspiracy lead by aliens from another planet who wish to take over the earth and the railroading of the defendants is merely a step in said scheme.. A reasonable doubt would be not believing the witness because he’s a liar and a rat and the physical evidence contradicts what he says.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.

I doubt that the issue here is an extra terrestrial conspiracy. My guess is that it involves the Commonwealth’s chief witness in the issues that we’ve discussed over the last couple of weeks.

“Given your experience, if you had to guess, what do you think is going on here?”


Without knowing the breakdown of the verdicts already rendered, it is really impossible to tell. However, if I had to guess given what I know at this point, I would say that the lone juror is holding out for “not guilty” because he or she is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. The other jurors, on the other hand, feel that the juror is being unreasonable and is holding the Commonwealth burden of beyond all doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt is not the same thing as beyond all doubt.

“So, what are you what do you imagine will end up happening?”

The famous scenes of 12 Angry Men works well in the movies, but I don’t think it happens very often in reality. I think that most likely either the lone juror will finally give in to the pressure, or there will be a mistrial as to those charges that are not decided.

“Is it possible that the other 11 jurors will just give up in order to finally go home give in to the one juror? “

Of course, anything is possible. But I doubt it. Not in a quadruple murder case. Plus, the deliberations have been going on for several days and they have not given up yet. I think that both sides are equally vehement in their opinion. At least so far. I think if the jurors come back to the judge again later today and say that they are still deadlocked in the same way, she is going to be pretty hard-pressed to just declare the jury hung and declare a mistrial.

But, as I say, in the criminal justice system, anything is possible

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