Doug Thomson – “The Meaning of Reasonable Doubt”

Winona, MN Criminal Defense Attorney J.P. Plachecki on how famed trial lawyer Doug Thomson would describe the concept of reasonable doubt to a jury.

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One of the things Dougie would do in closing argument is he would say, “I got a bottle of Dristan that I take for a cold.” And he would say I’ve got 12 of them in here and he would put them out on the table and he would say let’s say eight of these point to guilt. He’d put them back in the bottle and he would say – and I used this in my closing on October 13, the 27-minute verdict acquittal. But then we have two that point to innocent. Now let’s say the two that point to innocence, let’s say I tell ya those two are cyanide pills and I put them in here. So we got 10 pills innocent and two cyanide. Ten that point to guild, two that point to innocent. And the two that point to innocent let’s just say they’re cyanide pills. Now I shake them up, and I tell you you gotta a cold, take one. And that’s what reasonable doubt is. You act on information that’s the most important to your affairs. And if you have a cold and I say you take one of those pills; are you going to take one? And that’s a resounding no. And Doug Thompson wasn’t about gimmicks but he was a brilliant man and found a lot of brilliant ways to point out different principles that work in a criminal trial.

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