Illinois Supreme Court Should Consider Reasonable Doubt Issue
Falkoff, Marc D.
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Last month, a state appellate court reversed the conviction of Mark Downs —a gang member serving 70 years for the murder of a 6-year-old boy — because the trial court attempted to answer a jury question about the definition of reasonable doubt. The case marks at least the third time since 2011 that serious convictions have been overturned because a judge tried to explain the meaning of reasonable doubt to a jury. Although there was good reason to reverse the conviction in Downs, the legal premise the appellate court relied on was flawed. At this point, the Illinois Supreme Court should step in and set the lower courts straight.