In 2016 Lawrence T. White and I conducted two controlled studies on
Wisconsin’s burden of
proof jury instruction. Our findings
were published in articles here and here.
Not surprisingly, when you tell participants the
state’s burden is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but then tell them “not to
search for doubt” and instead “to search for the truth,” you are lowering the burden of proof.
Our research has caused quite an emotional stir among prosecutors who rely on
While judges and lawyers hold some truly bizarre misconceptions about the social sciences, our original studies and articles have still made a serious dent in the problem. At least twenty-one
Wisconsin trial court judges have modified jury
instruction 140 in some way. You can see
a list of them, and read one judge’s thoughtful written decision to modify the