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Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Speaks at Phi Alpha Theta lecture


Williamsburg, Ky. – Mr. Robert Stephens, Juris Doctor Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, spoke at the Phi Alpha Theta lecture on Tuesday, February 21st in the Bennett Auditorium at University of the Cumberlands (UC).

The lecture entitled, “Reflections on Reasonable Doubt, The Confessions of a Trial Attorney” discussed a paper Stephens had written discussing the definition of reasonable doubt, and the dilemmas it has caused within court cases. He shared his opinion that an exact definition of reasonable doubt needs to be agreed upon.

“Before someone can be proven guilty at trial, the prosecutor, and the government must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” stated Stephens. “The problem with this comes when reasonable doubt is not defined for the jury and everyone has a different opinion on what the exact definition is.”

Several students and faculty members at University of the Cumberlands attended the lecture.

Sherri Berube, a freshman at UC, said, “The lecture was very informative; Mr. Stephens was a great speaker and he really made it clear how important it is that reasonable doubt gets a well-known definition.”

"I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Stephen's lecture,” said Jared Coleman, current President of Phi Alpha Theta at UC. “For me it raised an interesting question on the nature of the relationship between the government and the people in the judiciary and whether justice is best served through a juror's self-definition of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' or through a standard definition of the term."

Stephens is a 1996 graduate of UC, then Cumberland College. He was graduated with majors in History and Political Science, and a minor in Philosophy. During the 1994-1995 school year Stephens was the Co-Historian of Phi Alpha Theta’s Upsilon-Upsilon Chapter, and during the 1995-1996 school year he was the President.

In the summer of 1996 Stephens presented a paper at the Phi Alpha Theta International Convention. In 1999 Stephens was graduated from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.

From 1999-2004 Stephens worked as the Assistant Public Advocate for McCreary County. Since 2004 he has been working as the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Whitley and McCreary Counties. Stephens has also been employed as an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of the Cumberlands since 2011.

“The primary goal of this discussion has been to make some small stirring of debate on an issue that could use some thought, possibly leading to positive change in legal jurisdictions, like the Commonwealth of Kentucky, struggling with the issue of what is actually meant by the phrase beyond a reasonable doubt,” concluded Stephens.

Founded in 1974, the Upsilon-Upsilon chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international honor society in history, holds the distinction of being both the oldest and the most frequently honored society at University of the Cumberlands. Phi Alpha Theta has for thirty-four years recognized Upsilon-Upsilon as the best chapter in its division. As one of the most active organizations on campus, Upsilon-Upsilon sponsors a popular lecture series, fundraisers, social events, and publishes the scholarly journal, The Upsilonian.

For more information contact the History and Political Science Department at 606-539-4270.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; seven graduate degrees, including a doctorate and six master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.