SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER TERM, 1993
certiorari to the supreme court of nebraska
No. 92-8894. Argued January 18, 1994—Decided March 22, 1994*
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of a charged offense. In re Winship, 397 U. S. 358. In upholding the first degree murder convictions and death sentences of petitioners Sandoval and Victor, the Supreme Courts of California and Nebraska, respectively, rejected contentions that due process was violated by the pattern jury instructions defining "reasonable doubt" that were given in both cases.
Held: Taken as a whole, the instructions in question correctly conveyed the concept of reasonable doubt, and there is no reasonable likelihood that the jurors understood the instructions to allow convictions based on proof insufficient to meet the Winship standard. Pp. 5-23. (a) The Constitution does not dictate that any particular form of words be used in advising the jury of the government's burden of proof, so long as "taken as a whole, the instructions correctly conve[y] the concept of reasonable doubt," Holland v. United States, 348 U. S. 121, 140. In invalidating a charge declaring, among other things, that a reasonable doubt "must be such . . . as would give rise to a grave uncertainty," "is an actual substantial doubt," and requires "a moral certainty," the Court, in Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U. S. 39, 40, observed that
*Together with No. 92-9049, Sandoval v. California, on certiorari to the Supreme Court of California.
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