I suppose you all realize that as members of the court marshall for the trial of the conspirators in the assassination of our beloved president you have on your souls a grave responsibility. The object of this trial is not to determine the guilt or innocence of a handful of rebels but to save this country from further bloodshed. The solemn truth, gentlemen, is that the federal union is on the verge of hysteria. That is why the trial of these conspirators has been placed in your hands rather than in a civil court. Because men of the sword can be hard, and hardness is all that can save this country from riot, mob rule, even resumption of the war itself.... To help you to be hard, first, you must not allow your judgement in decision in this case to be troubled by any trifling technicalities of the law or any pedantic regard for the customary rules of evidence. Second, and most important, you must not allow yourself to be influenced by that obnoxious creation of legal nonsense—reasonable doubt.
Nunnally Johnson (1897–1977), U.S. screenwriter, and John Ford. Mr. Ericson (Arthur Byron), The Prisoner of Shark Island, speaking to the military jury that will try alleged conspirators in Lincoln's assassination (1936).