Professional Jurors

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by KingYaba, May 20, 2011.

  1. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #1
    In light of that Florida murder case the thought of professional jurors came to mind.I don't know who first championed this idea but it's an interesting one to explore. I think the goal of a professional jury system is to lessen the effectiveness of emotional courtroom arguments and antics. The hope is these jurors would be stone faced and impartial. They would know the law because colleges would set up certifications or degrees in jury duty. Selection would be a simple randomized drawing of names.

    I think the downside to this is money. To have full-time jury members would be very costly. Who would pay for the training, too? How many people would voluntarily take a two-year course in jury duty just to become eligible? With a smaller pool of jurors, bribery may be more of a concern.
     
  2. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816

    DeaconGraves

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    #2
    Isn't a "professional juror" essentially a judge? Heck, in civil cases (where a trial by jury is not constitutionally required), the judge often takes the place of the jury as the "finder of fact."

    Also, I don't think professional jurors would pass constitutional muster. The constitution gives you a right to trial by a jury of your peers. That right has created a lot of case law holding that the jury must represent a "cross-section of the community" (this idea was developed back in the time when black defendants were often being tried by all-white juries). It could be easily argued that a group of twelve "professional jurors" might not represent the community.

    I think the better option to fix issues like what happened in this story would be to limit public access to the court room during jury selection (with the guarantee that the record be publicly released almost immediately).
     
  3. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #3
    I'm not so sure that professional jurors could really maintain a truly open mind about the guilt or innocence of the accused
     
  4. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #4
    Lawyers would fight this, tooth and nail.

    As to cost, just tap the pool of retired people.

    What better way to serve society? Seniors have a life-time of smarts.

    See my first sentence. :rolleyes:
     
  5. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #5


    Professional jurors, a bad idea. As for seniors, also a bad idea. They are so set in their thinking.
     
  6. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #6
    Yes, and they would also temper changes of Society, over a 'life-time'.

    Think of the Senate, and sober second thought (on paper).

    YRMV. :D
     
  7. citizenzen Suspended

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    #7
    Every generation is "set" in their own way.
     
  8. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    #8
    At $15 per day for first three days and $30 per day after that I shudder to think what kind of "professionals" we'd get in FL.
     
  9. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #9
    It's easy to overlook that the lay jury serves an important role as the final "check and balance" in the cycle of American legislature. The people elect representatives, who are thereafter granted power to pass laws on behalf of the people without consulting them further (until the next election). Those laws are enforced on the people by the executive branch, referred to the judicial branch for judgment, where the final decision on application of those laws is left back in the hands of the people allegedly served by the law.

    Experts in the law are important, but people are experts in what they want within their own communities. The people sit in judgment not just of the defendant, but of the entire context within which the defendant is being tried. When they declare a defendant guilty, they not only affirm that a law was violated, but also assent to the authority of that law over them.
     
  10. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #10
    Not as much as you might think.

    Bench trials are actually not always terrible for a defendant (in fact in Federal courts they result in more acquittals than with a jury). For a lawyer making a strategic decision between accepting a plea deal, going with a bench trial, or a jury trial, there are a lot of factors that come into play.

    However the right to a trial by jury is different; it comes down to whether a pool of average citizens feels the law is fair or is being fairly applied. Like Gelfin says, jury nullification is an important check on all three formal branches of government because it retains a final veto in the people, an ultimate sovereignty over matters of justice.

    Have you seen a modern jury? There's no shortage of retired people serving on them.
     
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #11
    No, I haven't been caught yet ..... either way you slice it. ;)
     
  12. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #12
    I think a professional jury should be an additional option, not a replacement. I love the idea of a professional jury in cases where the defendant "looks" guilty or the facts of the case are nasty. I can guarantee you that defendants and their counsel would utilize this option a lot!

    When I had a case where the law or facts were clearly on my client's side, I would push for a jury waiver. Judges can be very neutral, and where the state fails to meet its burden, are more likely to rule with the law than their hearts. On the other hand, where the case is shaky at best, or you are trying to poke holes in the state's case, all you need is one juror, and because many judges are former prosecutors, a jury is often the better route. If you had a professional jury consisting of attorneys or lay people with specialized legal training, it would offer an alternative for people who want the benefits of a bench trial, without the risk that the jury is going to consist of uninterested, biased or prejudiced jurors. (Prejudiced in ways not related to racial/ethnic/religious prejudice - those are things you can reduce through jury selection).

    This is a non-issue. Jury nullification almost never happens, and if a jury argues for jury nullification, a mistrial may result, along with sanctions.
     
  13. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #13
    I don't know about the money issue. For a jury of 12 with 12 alternates, my county always calls about 360-440 people for the job. The closest I got was on call juror who was the third 12 behind the other 24 for a drunk driving case.

    Every time they find out I have an undergrad degree in labor/employment law, and later a standard JD enrollment at a local law school, they always kick me off the jury. I so want to serve, but the attorneys always want somebody who they can "fool" and "work with". Even my former Harvard Law School trained professor said he would never use a lawyer or law student on a jury.

    I would love to be a professional juror, even if I got rather low pay.

    It's amazing how any lawyer can fool with beyond reasonable doubt in a criminal case and twist and turn it without the average person knowing. And the gross misinformation of court tv shows and lawyer based TV dramas don't help either. :p
     
  14. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #14
    Oh BS! What's amazing is how many people are convicted when the State has only shown it's probable that the person did the crime. The system is stacked against defendants, and the number of cases that result in not-guilty are miniscule compared to the guilty findings.

    Don't believe the hype.
     
  15. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #15
    So it's stacked unrealistically the other way? OK, then, but wouldn't that be a good reason for looking at the prospect of at least some professional jurors?

    Either way, it shows jurors are easy to fool and never up to speed.

    I am an American citizen by birth and have never served on a jury and wanted to, and I have met plenty of naturalized citizens here in California who hardly have any command of the English language. Many of my ex-girlfriends ESL students have served more than once!!

    My grandmother once served and she could barely say hello and goodbye, (and where is the bathroom, sir) let alone even hear anybody say anything. :)

    Why the hell is that? Is the court scared of Americans who were born here, and educated here, to serve? And why the under-representation of jurors with college degrees compared to the community over here in California?
     
  16. codymac, May 23, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011

    codymac macrumors 6502

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    #16
    That's pretty much what mcrain said above.

    Prosecutors see to that in voir dire. In my experience as a prospective juror, any display of intelligence during voir dire will get a juror kicked by the prosecutor.

    They keep calling me and I keep getting sent home. I honestly wouldn't mind serving - civic duty, experiencing the process, etc.

    I think prosecutors, and by extension, the government, would fight this tooth and nail. They want people just smart enough to follow their cases but not smart enough to see errors in logic or law or missing facts.
     
  17. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #17
    You must be an attorney, or at least have a JD, right?

    A court clerk friend of mine told me the court had one judge once serve on a jury in the county, and one lawyer, in all her years, but that was to make it true to say, "Yes, we have had lawyers/judges on a jury". Yeah, both of them. Our county has over 150,000 documented residents and close to that in illegal or undocumented residents.
     
  18. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #18
    I'm not surprised to read that you haven't served on a jury given some of what you say. The last jury I was on had a doctor, 2 engineers, an architect, and a woman who had studied law; hardly a poorly educated lot.

    If you've been summoned for jury duty but always excused, then I suspect that you must come off poorly when the lawyers interview the potential jurors
     
  19. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #19
    I don't even get to the interview phase over here in California. All my college educated friends, bachelor's degree and above, were also kicked off even before they even got into the potential 24. Maybe it's just my state or county.
     
  20. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #20
    I'm in los angeles so it isn't your state.

    If you don't even get to the interview phase then I suspect you really don't have an accurate impression of who actually ends up on the juries
     
  21. 63dot, May 23, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011

    63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #21
    I don't have any indication you were there? (Sorry if I thought you were in another state as the vast majority of MR members are not Californians).

    Then what do you make of the OJ Simpson case? Look where he lived and do you honestly think that jury was of his peers? I am a racial minority (Asian) and OJ allegedly committed a crime in a largely all white area but the representation of the jury said otherwise. Please explain that!

    75% percent of OJ's jury was African-American

    and

    16% percent of jury (just two) had college degrees of associate's degree or higher. The one college grad with the associate's degree graduated from San Francisco City College (OJ's alma mater) but that could be a coincidence but he's regarded in a godly manner there. The other college grad had a bachelor's or higher but there is no info on that person on the internet that I have found.

    Is that the makeup of Brentwood?

    Is that even close to the makeup of even greater Los Angeles?

    That being said, I do believe the defense provided a strong reasonable doubt case. During that trial, 41 independent witnesses saw Mr. Simpson 45 minutes from the location of the crime at a time that he would have had to be no more than 10 minutes away at the stated time of death. That provides enough doubt for me. Hey, if it were one person, then I am not sure the alibi is good, but 41 people? OK, I buy that as a pretty solid defense that I cannot explain away. Whether a person thought he did it or not, Cal Crim instructions are very clear about the doubt that would cast on any defendant being found guilty.
     
  22. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #22
    your peers are your fellow citizens, and not an exact duplicate of your personal profile as to education, sex, race, job and so forth.

    Did the lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense work to have a jury that they thought represented their best interests? of course.
     
  23. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #23
    The lengths to which courts go to discourage jury nullification, particularly in cases where the laws do not serve the community, such as marijuana laws, gives lie to this assumption.

    Judges in at least many states now routinely issue "instructions" to jurors that they are to only apply the law as the judge presents it to them, and their ability to do that (and in some cases to even mislead jurors into thinking it is their legal obligation to do so) falls into a gray area of legitimacy. The instruction is unenforceable in the general case. Jurors are excused if they give any hint during selection that they may be inclined to nullify. Prosecutors even go so far as to suppress vital evidence, with the court's blessing, if it is felt that evidence may lead the jury to nullify.

    All this is far from a "non-issue." It is, in fact, widespread corruption and exclusion of the people, by means of deceit and manipulation, from exercising their proper role as jurors.
     
  24. codymac macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Nah. I finished school late so by the time I started thinking about law school it would have meant too much debt with too much of a cut in pay coming out the other side. It worked out OK: I love the spirit & the philosophy of law but don't think I'd care much for the application of it.

    I studied psychology and criminology at undergrad and grad levels, so that gets me kicked if they ask about that background (sometimes they forget to extend the 'law enforcement' question to social sciences).

    Really, all I've ever done is shown a modicum of intelligence after the law is presented. Our prosecutors ask if there are any questions, and the pool has an opportunity to ask questions of the judge and the attorneys. In my experience, nearly any question yields a peremptory challenge. I've seen other jurors, with different backgrounds, kicked for similar.

    Guess they're right though. I've developed a bit of a bias against prosecutors as a result.
    ;)
     
  25. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #25
    In that respect you can be correct. But does the jury pool have to be the community at large or most similar in regards to the alleged perpetrator?

    In the courthouse near me, it represents an area that is immediately largely Mexican descent, and the jurors are largely Hispanic. So in that respect, it is a jury of peers. But what if the crime is committed in an area that is not so much heavily weighted towards one ethnic group? Can't the jury pool be a random selection of the county as a whole which is Hispanic, then white in almost equal numbers, then Filipino?

    I will say I have never been called to a jury trial that has involved an accountant, or person in a white collar crime. In that case, would the jury be more like that accountant? I am not asking to be facetious, but there tends to be a pattern of who is picked. Why is it that almost no Asians, except recently naturalized ones, are picked, yet most Hispanics I have talked to have served several times? Are Asians harder on defendants as some suggest?

    Personally, I am usually on the defense side, and I don't believe anyone should go to jail unless it's 100% percent in my mind. Sorry, but 99% percent won't do.
     

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