Trial by a jury of our peers.

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  #1  
Old 12-03-15, 11:52 AM
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Trial by a jury of our peers.

Maybe this should go into the Legal forums?

Trial by a jury of our peers.



After several discussion about this with friends and family I decided to throw it out here for comment or discussion.

First Iíd like to preface this with the thought that our current method of jury selection is at best awful, unfair, bias and unjust.

So let me put this question to you. Assume you are accused of a crime, any crime, be it small or large, weather you're guilty or not makes no difference! Would you be pleased or at least willing to let, say those in your street judge you or sit on the jury to determine your guilt? Letís expand that to all those in your immediate neighborhood. Then letís expand that to the town you live in. Still with me? Remember you may or may not be guilty, but letís now expand the pool of jurors to the county and perhaps state. And perhaps on a very serious crime or widely publicized crime to the nationís pool of jurors. Keep in mind you have little or no knowledge of any of these peopleís beliefs, education, general knowledge of law, like or dislikes, not to mention religious , political or racist biases. Feel comfortable? Letís not even consider the lawyerís ability to sway the jury or the qualifications of the lawyer. And do not consider the judge, he is there mainly to umpire and manage the proceedings according to the law. I donít know about you, but Iím beginning to sweat. But in fact that is exactly what we all can face if and when we are accused of a crime. Now letís not get stuck on details. Some crimes do not require a jury. Some crimes donít need to go to court. Skip all that stuff.

Keep in mind the Prosecutor wants you guilty be it true or false and the Defense attorney wants you acquitted, right or wrong. Makes little difference to them. Or should not seeing as to who they work for.

Letís go back for a moment to our immediate friends and neighborhood. Joe Blow three doors down from me is a liberal and all his political signs at election time are Democratic or Liberal candidates. Tim has an arsenal in guns and weapons. All legal he claims. And I believe him. Mike across the street is a die hard in the wool Conservative. Joe and Sue are in the midst of a divorce and seem to be angry all the time. Clair is a single women that seems to be a woman rights advocate. Bill and Tina next door are a typical family with three kids. But itís just that Bill hardly ever says anything. The silent type. Jim on the other side appears to be just like me and says he believes in the same value as I. But I sometimes wonder. Oh then there is the new couple that moved in about a year ago. Foreign, may be Mid-Eastern, or Hispanic. Not sure. Then there is the ďone in every neighborhoodĒ who keeps his property, apartment, car or whatever a total disaster and slum looking. And of course Mr. & Mrs. perfect lawn care artist.

The vast majority of us never go to a town meeting or even vote for that matter. Typical American landscape, Iíd say. You still have the warm, comfy, fuzzy feeling about them judging you of an accused crime?

OK! Here is what I would like to see. PROFESSIONAL JURORS. Educated in law and certified, licensed, or degreed with some type of measurable qualifications to understand what lawyers say and understand what the law demands. They would not be lawyers but taught the basics of how our system works and how lawyers can sway the ďnonĒ educated, current selection of jury people. They would be taught the good, bad and ugly of our prison system. They would be exposed to psychological study as to how and why people react to crime. They would learn about profiling and why itís good and bad. They would learn how to read between the newspaper lines and todayís questionable reporting.

I could see a two or four year degree for Professional Jurors. These people would be hired and paid a livable wage and retained by the local, county or state government to be on call 5 days a week to sit on court cases. They will not be interviewed by lawyers for selection but would be randomly chosen only at time of court hearings and could not be dismissed by a lawyer but maybe a judge if warranted . This would reduce corruption to a minimum. They would not be excused for job related reasons or political reason or even because they may or may not be of a particular race, color or creed.

They would be in fact a diverse select group of people who know what is correct, incorrect, right or wrong in the eyes of the law (at least to a degree that is not present now). In essence a check and balance of our check and balance legal system. They must be knowledgeable and be able to prove it.

How you may ask would we finance such a group of people? With our taxes. We do a lot worse as it stands now with how our taxes are spent. Plus I think court cost would be reduced by a significant amount just in time savings.

Now just one more question. Between what I described in my first part vs what I described in my second part, which would you choose (especially if you happen to be innocent) to be judged by a jury of your peers?

For you old timers, remember the movie 12 Angry Men starring among many others Henry Fonda? If you havenít seen it. Do so. And if you have, see it again. Same to those of you young people who may not be aware of one of the great movies of our time.

Any thoughts or comments? Any lawyers out there to agree or disagree?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-03-15, 01:29 PM
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Funny you should start this thread; I have to report for jury duty Monday. It's a 35 mile drive (about 45 minutes) to the courthouse and the fact I am sole proprietor/owner-operator of my towing service has no bearing on my being excused or not. But since my brother is a sergeant with the sheriff's office in a nearby county, and BTW has about 400 DUI arrests to his credit, the chances of my actually being seated are practically nil. I went through this several years ago, being called every year like clockwork. Then I got no notices for about 5 years until this year. One of the really annoying aspects is that anyone over the age of 70 can get a permanent excusal just for the asking. Granted, many seniors would have a hard time sitting through proceedings, but there's plenty of them out on the golf courses, tennis courts, etc, every day, too.

I, on the other hand, have to close my business for the day (at least, possible two or more day), drive 45 minutes each way, and get, if seated, a whole $15/day.

Professional jurors? Hmmm. I can see advantages, but I can also imagine (I have a pretty wild imagination) that there are probably six ways from Sunday for a system like that to be corrupted.

Great movie; lots of then-current and future big name actors.
 
  #3  
Old 12-03-15, 01:45 PM
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TG, back when I lived in fla I always got excused from jury duty. Being a single parent and foreman caused it to be a hardship on both me and my boss

I was on a federal jury once after I retired. I don't remember what the jury pay was but they also gave mileage to the court house [1hr,45min drive - one way] I'm thinking the mileage pay was 2-3 times the jury pay. What I didn't think fair was the stipulation that your employer had to pay you the difference in pay you lost by federal law. That might be ok for a big corporation but what about the little guy that has one employee? I could see a 2 man grass cutting business end up with the employee on jury duty, the employer paying his wages and his replacement with the boss making less than minimum wage
 
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Old 12-03-15, 03:57 PM
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Like I said Professional Jurors are the only way to go.
Tow-Guy, you say possible corruption. So tell me the ways that I haven't thought of. By being picked at random just at time of the hearing I think would eliminate tampering since no lawyer or judge would know ahead of time who might be called.
 
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Old 12-03-15, 05:07 PM
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I just noticed FURD might be responding to this post. I guess I'll get a cup of coffee and settle in for a long read.
 
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Old 12-03-15, 05:33 PM
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12 Angry Men was remade with Jack Lemmon in the Henry Fonda role. Both versions are excellent and in my opinion the movie should be shown to prospective jurors.

I have previously mentioned that I live right on the county line (my southern property boundary IS the county line) and as such I have received numerous summonses for jury duty in the adjoining county. Each and every time I have been excused for the simple reason that the jury must be comprised of residents of the county where the trial will take place. Amazingly, this county has a significantly larger population than the county in which I live.

I was called, once, for jury duty in my home county. It was pretty much a perfect example of wasted time. There were about a hundred people, maybe a few more, and as I recall we were separated into three groups. Not physically separated but given identifiers such as group A, group B and group C. Within each group we were given individual identifying numbers. We all had to go to a small theater and watch a movie starring Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) on how the jury system works. Yes, it was an OLD movie! We were told that we could be called for either a case in the Superior (county) court or a case in the District (city) court. We were told that if we were not called by 1 PM we would be dismissed for the day. Our total commitment would be for a week or the length of a trial but could be released earlier if there were no trials scheduled. We were then returned to the original room where we waited until noon and then released for lunch, to return to the room by 1 PM. When we did return we were dismissed and told to report back at 8 AM the next day. End of day one.

Day two one group was sent to a courtroom about 9 AM while the rest of us sat in the main room, most reading a book or magazine. Around 10 AM my group was sent to a courtroom where we all sat together (not in the jury box as there were about thirty of us) and the judge proceeded to tell us about how long the case would take and then asked if serving would be an undue hardship to any of us. He talked a bit about the case and then asked if any of us was, or had any friends or relatives in the legal professions, including law enforcement, the same about any insurance company connections, the same with anyone connected to alcohol abuse treatment and the like. There were a couple or three people that acknowledged such a connection and they were dismissed. Then the judge told us the case was concerning a fight between an off-duty police officer (not in uniform) and a customer in a tavern. At this point the prosecutor and defense attorney took turns in asking generic questions of the entire group. Several people were dismissed during this phase. Eventually 12 people were chosen to go sit in the jury box, I being chosen. There were maybe 8 left in the original pool.

Once in the jury box the prosecutor and defense started asking individual questions and/or outright dismissing jurors without even asking a specific question. I was eliminated at this point for some unknown (to me) reason. Once eliminated we had to return to the original pool room for re-assignment or dismissal. We were released at noon and told to call a number after 5 PM to see if we were to report Wednesday morning. When I called there was a recording telling people that they were fully released and did not have to return at all.

Prior to this experience I had read a few books on jury trials and I learned that originally in English Law that the "jury of one's peers" meant people of the same general area of which the accused lived, worked and where the crime was committed. The jury was supposed to include people that actually knew the defendant and his/her family and maybe even relatives of the accused. Knowledge of the crime was considered an asset. However, some two hundred years of history has reduced the jury pool to people that have absolutely no prior knowledge of the accused, the crime, any involvement in law enforcement, insurance settlement, treatment programs or anything that might in any way, shape or form "bias" the prospective juror for or against the accused. This has, in effect, left the jury totally ignorant of anything having to do with the crime, the defendant, the police procedures or the manner in which a court operates. In other words, a group of people that don't want to be there that has no understanding of procedures is going to determine the FACTS of the case with absolutely no knowledge other than the prosecution or defense can twist to their individual side.

(More to follow as I don't know how much I can write in one post.)
 
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Old 12-03-15, 05:48 PM
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The TRUTH is that most people haven't a clue as to HOW a trial works. They think it is just like all the court shows on television. It is not.


A slight aside. During the murder trial of O.J. Simpson my mother kept talking about how the defense never offered an alternate scenario to the prosecution's story of the crime. I tried to point out that in our system that the defense does NOT have to do anything, that it is the prosecution that has to PROVE (in a criminal case) beyond a shadow of doubt that the accused DID commit the crime for which they are charged. She, and a large portion of the population, simply cannot grasp this fundamental point. BOTH the prosecution and the defense love this ignorance and use it to their advantage. This is one of the reasons why BOTH sides want to eliminate anyone that might have an inkling as to how the system is supposed to work.

Most people do NOT want to serve on a jury and for many excuses. I sure as heck do not want someone on MY jury that is POed at having to be there. I do not want someone on MY jury that is thinking of how bad traffic is going to be when they get out of the courtroom that afternoon. I don't want someone thinking about the baseball game, how bad kids are these days, has racial prejudices or any other thoughts beyond the actual case against me on MY jury.

So, yes, I DO think that professional juries are a good idea. I don't think that it would take a four-year degree and I would actually be against that requirement. I also would be against a prohibition of voir dire to determine if any specific juror might be prejudicial in the case at hand although I might be willing to limit juror dismissal to only demonstrable issues.
 
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Old 12-03-15, 06:22 PM
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Bravo Furd. Well stated. And not so long winded that I drank all the coffee.

The only disagreement I have is the formal education point. In today's society everybody is an expert. Just as engineers, scientist, plumbers, electricians, teacher, etc... must be taught and trained, so would it be for a professional juror.

How would one qualify as a knowledgeable juror if not for some type of formal education. And what would be the incentive to have people, especially the young to want to be a juror if not for that professional status? And it does or would take at least two years to learn enough to be useful.

I don't particularly care for senior citizens being the main source of the pool. For many of the reasons you stated. But, a seasoned professional would be well received by the judicial "system" if not the members themselves. Again a professional moniker would be enough for those seniors who are fit and willing to serve would be good.

I for one have never been called and yet I'm registered to vote (and do so). But my wife and kids have all been called at various times. Go figure.
 
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Old 12-03-15, 06:51 PM
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I think you may have misunderstood me, or maybe I was a bit too vague. I most assuredly DO agree that a formal education would be necessary, I just don't think it has to be a full four years (160 credits) of coursework. I would think a two year associate degree or even a certificate program would be quite sufficient. Remember, we are not going to be training lawyers (I hope) to be jurors but to train otherwise educated and thinking people the nuances of jury trials and how they work.

Honestly, I think it could be done in even less than 80 credits and in my opinion the shorter, within the boundaries of completeness, the better in that it would encourage more people to get the certification and thereby increase the pool of trained jurors.

Trouble is, lawyers will be totally against the idea because the more educated a juror is, on all subjects, the harder it is for a lawyer to influence the thinking of that juror. This applies equally to prosecutors and defense. Further, the idea of trained professional jurors will likely never be acceptable to the masses as it hints of elitism. Even though they do not understand the system and its nuances, there are VERY few of the average (or less) educated that would be in favor of professional juries.
 
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Old 12-03-15, 07:17 PM
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Trouble is, lawyers will be totally against the idea because the more educated a juror is, on all subjects, the harder it is for a lawyer to influence the thinking of that juror.
This and the rest of your last paragraph is very true. A sad case of our society.

And yes I did misunderstand your views on education, but I would like to see no less than two years.

Well, Furd and the rest of you who read and replied to this post, I thank you. I enjoy a good discussion.

I need to get to bed now. Work at 7:45 am
 
  #11  
Old 12-03-15, 07:30 PM
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Liberals, Conservatives, Hispanics, Arabs & the one dirty guy maybe the only people, in your fictitious or even real neighborhood but it is by no means an accurate depiction, of the entire country. Liberals & Conservatives don't cover all the political categories, by a long shot.

The vast majority of us never go to a town meeting or even vote for that matter.
Are attending town meetings & voting qualifications that would give one the ability, to make a good professional juror? If voting actually changed anything, it would be illegal.

Without quoting the entire syllabus that you outlined, who would be teaching the course? Would it be a Liberal, Conservative or someone from the religious right who's mythical values disappear as soon as it's time to invade some country, for fictitious reasons? Would it include the Prison Industrial Complex as part of the "ugly"? It will be slanted no matter who teaches it. Professional jurors will automatically have "preconceived notions". That is the first thing that the DA & the defense lawyers don't want. That's why there is jury selection, with both sides there.

I'm not saying that a jury by peers works well either but it's still better than professional jurors. People get railroaded on a daily basis there too. OJ should have had a jury of 12 ex NFL players, if a jury by peers were really a true concept. Professional jurors would make things way worse than they already are.

I never saw 12 Angry Men nor do I want to see it. It wouldn't change my opinion of the system anyway. Finally, let's start a campaign to change election day to April 16th.
 
  #12  
Old 12-04-15, 02:48 AM
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You raise some very important points and you also tell us a few things about yourself that are somewhat troubling. I'll touch on a few.

Are attending town meetings & voting qualifications that would give one the ability, to make a good professional juror?
Not in my opinion. These actions MAY mean a person more "in tune" with the community, both local and global, around him or her but it certainly is NOT a necessity. Truth is, most of the people that attend public hearings (town meetings) are rather closed minded and interested in ONLY the subject of the hearing. As for voting...
If voting actually changed anything, it would be illegal.
I tend to agree with you. I have come to this conclusion (voting) fairly recently and I have pretty much decided to vote only on issues rather than people. It is unfortunate, but true, (in my opinion, of course) that voting for people is mostly a contest between Tweedledumb and and Tweedledumber these days. Further, while the original intent was probably laudable, the campaign laws among other things have the effect of discouraging the most qualified people from even considering running for office.

...who would be teaching the course?
An EXCELLENT question! The courses (not just a single course) would have to be very carefully designed to deal with the points of law concerning jury trials and work to minimize biases. To this end you could have several instructors from differing political stances explaining the nuances of the actual laws and also the rules of trial from different standpoints. You won't be able to eliminate bias but you should be able to present alternative views to the point that a THINKING person could minimize their own biases.

Professional jurors will automatically have "preconceived notions".
ALL prospective jurors, professional or lay, have "preconceived notions" and that is simply fact when it comes to humans. There is no way to eliminate these "preconceived notions" so what needs to be done is to teach people how to recognize these biases and to overcome them as much as possible. Having people with opposing "preconceived notions" can also help to negate the effect upon the entire jury of any such ideas.

That is the first thing that the DA & the defense lawyers don't want. [Preconceive notions] That's why there is jury selection, with both sides there.
And if you read my response you would know that I am NOT in favor of eliminating the process of voir dire in selecting a jury. The TRUTH is that neither the prosecution OR the defense wants a THINKING PERSON to serve on a jury. Thinking people are much harder to mold into a puppet of either side. Get a person of limited education and one that rarely utilizes any critical thinking skills and a competent attorney will be able to convince that person the sky is green and the grass is blue. That is exactly the kind of person that is normally seated on a jury and that is also the person LEAST QUALIFIED to sit on a jury.

I'm not saying that a jury by peers works well either but it's still better than professional jurors. People get railroaded on a daily basis there too. OJ should have had a jury of 12 ex NFL players, if a jury by peers were really a true concept. Professional jurors would make things way worse than they already are.
Since we have never had professional juries in this country what you wrote is pure speculation and your opinion without a scintilla of proof. Further, your definition of Mr. Simpson's "peers" as only being made up of the ranks of retired NFL players is ludicrous.

I never saw 12 Angry Men nor do I want to see it [My emphasis.] It wouldn't change my opinion of the system anyway. Finally, let's start a campaign to change election day to April 16th.
What these statements tell me is that you have a closed mind on the subject. How can you possibly comment on a movie or the subjects presented in that movie if you have not seen the movie and refuse to view it?

You have not presented a single option to the problems of lay juries, or maybe you have the opinion that there is nothing wrong with the jury trial system in this country that exists today. If the latter, I would suggest that you are ignorant of just how jury trials are held these days. Indeed, what you seem to espouse is a total condemnation of our entire system of governance with the inane comment of moving election day to the day after our income taxes are due. Maybe next time you can stay on topic.
 
  #13  
Old 12-04-15, 03:51 AM
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I can only add to Furds comments on this one point.

Who educates our lawyers, judges, doctors, psychologist, religious people, teachers, etc... And every profession has a non-emperic side to it that are based on ones mores, feelings and sense of right and wrong. The balance comes from the mix of those biases being presented to the "student".
Our current system is highly flawed. But it is better than no system or trial without jury. The more I talk and think about it the more I think a professional juror would benefit society.

Puplo, you are guilty of being closed mined and bigoted! No jury! No trial!

Of course I'm kidding and I know (at least assume) you are not those things are are to some extend playing the devils advocate. Your comments do have some merit and good points.

Thank you for responding.

But please reconsider seeing the movie 12 Angry Men. If not for the story line, just for the star studded cast of yesteryear actors. Very compelling acting.

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[TD="class: character"]Furd, our forum has a 12000 character limit.
I had to edit this reply by a lot to get it all in.
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  #14  
Old 12-04-15, 04:11 AM
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But please reconsider seeing the movie 12 Angry Men. If not for the story line, just for the star studded cast of yesteryear actors. Very compelling acting.
Or watch the 1997 made for television version. It also has an excellent cast.

12 Angry Men (TV Movie 1997) - IMDb

(I own both versions and watch them in succession at least once a year.)
 
  #15  
Old 12-04-15, 06:38 AM
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Furd's quotes
Get a person of limited education and one that rarely utilizes any critical thinking skills
The need for a juror to have a better education maybe true in a civil case but the proposal was about criminal cases. A different type of education is needed.

The TRUTH is that neither the prosecution OR the defense wants a THINKING PERSON to serve on a jury.
I knew window washer who worked on a 57 story building (too high for me). He was called for jury duty & tried to get dismissed. He was picked. At the end, he asked the lawyer, why did you want me. The lawyer answered "Because you are a free thinker"

Indeed, what you seem to espouse is a total condemnation of our entire system
You aren't far off. There are so many people in jail who don't belong there. As I said, people are railroaded every day. America has 5% of the world's population & 23% of the worlds prison population. That's why I mentioned the Prison Industrial Complex. Prison labor is sold to major companies & the Feds or the State keep the profit. You can't sell prison labor without prisoners. That might explain why 23% of the worlds prison population. I didn't pick those #s out of the air. They came from The Fortune Society. They are an organization who helps repeat offenders break the vicious cycle of release & imprisonment.

As far as movies go, I don't watch them. I'm not knocking 12 Angry Men. I have other things to do. If I were going to watch a movie, I'd rather see Jackie Chan.
 
  #16  
Old 12-04-15, 09:05 AM
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Several years ago I sat on a federal jury in a wrongful dismissal trial involving several million dollars. The trial went on for 3 days and THEN the 2 sides reached a settlement that ended the trial. The following day I was called by the prosecution AND defense lawyers to feel out my & other jurors opinions--maybe to see if they had done a good job "selling" their case. I was working 2nd shift at the time so I had plenty of time to chat about the trial and what I learned about the parties involved AND WHAT WAS EXCLUDED in the testimony has forever changed my opinion of how the legal system works (or in fact doesn't).

Rather than being irrelevant or prejudicial, the excluded facts had EVERYTHING to do with why there was a trial, and the truth of the case. And yes both lawyers did tell the same story about these "inadmissible" facts.

Perhaps if jurors were professionals there would no longer be a reason to withhold relevant facts from the jury, and they could be trusted with FULL knowledge and base their decision on complete information.

I will never second-guess the decision of a jury. As an outsider or news-watcher you have NO idea what information they are being presented with--and it's most certainly NOT what you see in the papers or TV.
 
  #17  
Old 12-04-15, 03:49 PM
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Wasn't that a civil case? The topic was about criminal cases.
 
  #18  
Old 12-04-15, 04:54 PM
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If I happen to be watching TV and I stumble across the original 12 Angry Men, nothing will be done for awhile. I know this cause it's been happening for 56 years.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 04:56 PM
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Civil or criminal, it is the rules of trials that are more important to the juror than the rules of law. Remember that regardless of it being a civil or criminal case the jury is is the "finder of facts" and it is the judge that is the finder of law.

Now obviously the more the jury knows of the law the better informed they will be and better they can do their job but the better they know the rules of trials the better they will be able to determine when either the prosecution or the defense starts to pull shenanigans with the tacit approval of the judge.

As you originally stated (and I agree with) the prosecutor will do anything the judge allows (or overlooks) to win the case. Unless the defense is at least as sharp as the prosecution (which far too often is NOT the case) and files a timely objection, the defendant WILL lose. It is a sad fact, but most assuredly a FACT, that most lay people do NOT know all the rules of trial and can easily be manipulated by a prosecuting attorney. And for those that might think a prosecuting attorney would never "bend the law" to fit his or her agenda, remember that the chief prosecutor IS almost always an elected official and therefore a politician first and a lawyer second. Assistant prosecutors are almost always exempt (from Civil Service law) positions and serve at the pleasure of the chief prosecutor.

One such rule that juries should ALWAYS know is the rule of jury nullification. Most modern courts dismiss the rule of jury nullification stating that, as a matter of law, the jury has no power to nullify the law in specific cases. Yet the rule IS enshrined in the history of trial by jury. Professional jurors would learn the history, the usage and the right of jury nullification and that would go a long ways in curbing the overly zealous courts in regard to the thousands of people that are treated unfairly by the legal system as it stands today.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 05:30 PM
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Remember that regardless of it being a civil or criminal case the jury is is the "finder of facts"
The jury doesn't find anything. The jury waits for the facts or the lies to be presented & if the judge decides that one of the facts or lies is inadmissible, he or she tells the jury to disregard it but as F. Lee Bailey said, you can't unring the bell.
 
  #21  
Old 12-04-15, 07:06 PM
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Pulpo, for all your intelligence on other subjects you are sadly lacking in the FACTS of our system of jurisprudence.

In a trial the judge is the "finder of law". That means the judge is the arbiter, or expert on what the LAW states. The judge rules on what the LAW states or how it is to be interpreted.

The attorneys, both prosecution and defense, present arguments based upon evidence that is submitted to the jury. None of what these attorneys present is considered fact at the time of its presentation EXCEPT for certain items that have corroborating evidence attested to by an "expert" witness. An expert witness is someone that by training and experience is accepted by the court (judge, prosecution and defense) as having the ability to determine facts in a limited area based upon the evidence presented. For example, a forensic pathologist (a medical doctor specializing in the examination of corpses) is considered to be an expert in determining the exact cause of death. A ballistics specialist is considered an expert in determining if a specific bullet was fired from a specific gun.

ALL the evidence presented is submitted to the jury and it is the JURY that determines which pieces of evidence are facts and which are speculations. Only FACTS are supposed to be considered in the determination of whether or not the prosecution has presented sufficient evidence, evidence beyond "reasonable doubt" in criminal cases or a "preponderance of evidence" (more likely than not) in a civil case and IF this threshhold has been reached then, and ONLY then, does the jury pronounce the defendant guilty.

IF the jury finds that the evidence presented does NOT meet the standards required (criminal or civil) then the jury will acquit the defendant, meaning that the prosecution has not presented compelling evidence that the defendant is guilty. Note well that acquittal does NOT mean the defendant is not guilty, just that the prosecution failed to present enough evidence to convince the jury that the defendant was indeed guilty of the crime charged.

So yes, the jury IS the "finder of facts" in a jury trial.

Now if you want to argue that the ideal I just posted is often not what really happens I would agree with you. However, I would also argue that the REASON why the ideal is not followed has more to do with having uninformed juries, juries with no knowledge of how trials are supposed to be conducted, than any other single item. Having professional jurors would go a long way to prevent these miscarriages of justice.

Do you want to discuss appeals now?
 
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Old 12-05-15, 01:36 AM
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Having professional jurors would go a long way to prevent these miscarriages of justice.
Even countries that have the worst dictators in the world, don't have the prison population that America has. That is not due to bad juries & it is not because America's population is more evil than others. It is due to a constant planned attack, on various segments of the population in search of monetary gain for yet another segment. It's been happening for years & it won't stop. Professional jurors would just add to the bureaucracy & add to the cost since they would have to be paid far more than the current $40 per day.

Do you want to discuss appeals now?
No.
 
  #23  
Old 12-05-15, 02:40 AM
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Even countries that have the worst dictators in the world, don't have the prison population that America has.
No argument from me, I completely agree. Further, most countries other than the US have abolished capital punishment as well. I think if you look at the numbers the US has an insane number of people behind bars for simple drug crimes that are no threat to anyone but themselves.

That is not due to bad juries & it is not because America's population is more evil than others.
On this I DO disagree, not on Americans being more evil, of course, but that we DO have bad juries, bad laws and too many people in positions of power that will do anything to hold or increase their power.

It is due to a constant planned attack, on various segments of the population in search of monetary gain for yet another segment.
Can't argue against that either. While I think that BOTH major political parties are responsible for this sad state of affairs I also think that the Republicans, at least the "more conservative wing" of that party are more to blame than any particular group. That does NOT mean that I think the Democrat party is much better.

It's been happening for years & it won't stop.
It certainly won't stop on its own. Nor will it stop as long as people have a defeatist attitude or climb on the silly "law and order" bandwagon. It won't stop until the majority of the populace sees exactly how damaging the present system is to our country and demands changes.

Professional jurors would just add to the bureaucracy & add to the cost since they would have to be paid far more than the current $40 per day.
Yes, they WOULD add to the "bureaucracy" and yes, they would add to the cost of trials. On the other hand, the lengths of trials would perhaps be shortened and the number of appeals would also most likely be lessened. (No, I have no proof of either, it is just my gut reaction.)

I don't state that "professional" juries are the ultimate answer but I DO think they are a step in the right direction. As for how to pay for professional juries, of course it would come from taxation. It is my opinion, and many will agree with me, that compared to other first-world countries Americans enjoy a lower rate of taxation than most other countries. HOWEVER, also in my opinion, we get a much poorer return on those taxes than most other countries. Improve the return to the common citizen rather than to a select few and our tax burden would not seem so onerous as it does presently.

Lots and lots of changes need to be made. I think we can both agree on that.
 
  #24  
Old 12-05-15, 04:31 AM
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the US has an insane number of people behind bars for simple drug crimes that are no threat to anyone but themselves
While I'm sure there are some that are incarcerated that pose no threat to anyone other than themselves, a lot of crime is fueled by drugs. I don't know the statistics but in the area I live if all the illegal drugs were gone - crime would go down drastically! It's one thing for someone to work and spend their money on drugs but too many don't work and commit crimes to fuel their addictions. Curing the addiction might be better but until that can be done, locking them up protects the rest of us.

I can see a merit in professional jurors. I've only been on one jury and it was an eye opener - nothing like TV!
 
  #25  
Old 12-05-15, 06:49 AM
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I don't know the statistics but in the area I live if all the illegal drugs were gone - crime would go down drastically!
I know how to get rid of all the illegal drugs. Make them legal. They shouldn't have been illegal, in the first place. It won't be done, for the same reason that I've been saying all along. The Prison Industrial Complex makes money, on prisoners. Google it. You can't sell prison labor without prisoners. That's one way to get them.
 
  #26  
Old 12-05-15, 06:57 AM
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But some drugs are just bad and not just for the user's health. Locally a few yrs ago we had a bad problem in the area with 'bath salts' [some type of synthetic drug] For awhile it was sold legally but the users would often go berserk when high on the stuff causing a danger to those around them and the cops when called to handle the problems. The drug was banned, many of the smoke shops that sold it where closed down and now it's rare to hear of anyone going crazy taking the stuff.

It's my understanding that meth is fairly cheap but still a large number of break ins are committed by meth addicts.
 
  #27  
Old 12-05-15, 07:36 AM
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My position on drugs is fairly simple. Decriminalize drugs and stress education as well as treatment. If people then want to use drugs, let them and let the chips fall where they may.

By education I mean actual education as to both short-term and long-term usage, NOT the tired old "Don't Do Drugs" crap that we KNOW is ineffective. Fund treatment centers for those that want to get off drugs but allow only ONE chance. It should be expected that someone trying to kick the habit might slip once but if they slip a second time then toss them out on their ear. If they kill themselves or otherwise die then use that as a teaching moment for those who have not yet taken that first step. Any crimes committed as a result of drug use OR to obtain drugs via any manner need to be fully prosecuted under existing laws for whatever type of crime was committed.

I guess I have known too many people that have been "hooked" on several types of drugs, (meth, cocaine, heroin to name a few) and have kicked the habit, almost always with help rather than alone, to have much compassion for those still or about to start using.
 
  #28  
Old 12-05-15, 07:46 AM
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I've known many heroin addicts but I have yet to meet a meth addict. Bath Salts are new to me. I was off the streets log before that. If Bath Salts were left illegal, I wouldn't complain but the arrest process should change, to include help.
 
  #29  
Old 12-05-15, 12:27 PM
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I think we need a cooling off period before things go bad. If the OP wants to start a new thread then fine. I'm closing this one.
 
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