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Old 10-14-2005, 07:28 PM   #1
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The jury system

I was just wondering-did the jury system was established when the US was founded or was it already there before that (British colonies phase)? Or only at some point afterwards?

Who thought of it and what were the pros/cons?

I for myself fail to see any benefit to it. It seems, well, just not right to let people without any relevant training (regardless of their intellectual abilities) to determine if a man will be free or not.
They are selected (by lawyers) on the basis of their potential ampathy towards the defendant (or lack of one) on the basis of same/different race, social-economical background, etc…
Lawyers are more likely to turn to the juries’ emotions instead of their logic-a method that works many times.

Why not just let the judge actually JUDGE?
I'll be happy if someone can come up with the benefits...

I was also wondering if there were serious public debates about it in The United States in recent years.
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Old 10-14-2005, 07:32 PM   #2
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Most of the legal system in the United States is based on English common law.

We reformed it after writing our Constitution.
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Old 10-14-2005, 07:37 PM   #3
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Re: The jury system

Quote:
Originally posted by sarit


Why not just let the judge actually JUDGE?
I'll be happy if someone can come up with the benefits...

Judge alone is a defendant's option, I believe.

at the founding

they felt oppressed by King George
and believed "Judging by peers" was a better option for justice.

Bill Clinton got a much fairer verdict with a Jury of 100 Senators than may have been possible before one Judge that had partisan feelings.

I am sure there are members with more background in Law than me.

Perhaps they can elaborate better.
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Old 10-14-2005, 08:06 PM   #4
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Hmmm. I'm no expert on this subject, but I do know the jury concept in Western legal thought goes back at least as far as classical Greece. In Athens, juries were chosen by lot from the pool of "citizens" (i.e., Athenian-born male landowners), not entirely unlike our process today. However, their juries were very large, often numbering in the hundreds--almost more of a popular assembly, really--and they didn't have "lawyers" per se, so the juries themselves generally did the questioning and determined the scope of the inquiry. Think of Plato's account of the trial of Socrates, for example.

Juries, in one form are another, are today part of the legal process throughout the Western world, though the roles they play and the types of cases they're involved in differ widely from one country to the next. In "civil law" (as opposed to "common law") systems, like France's for example, many criminal cases are decided without a jury, and their judicial philosophy is often characterized as "guilty until proven innocent." While this is not literally true, they do separate the investigative stage from the trial stage in ways that are often considered illegitimate from the standpoint of "common law" traditions, such as ours.

But how exactly we got from Athens to here, or what the history of debate about the role and purpose of juries in Western legal thought is, I couldn't tell you.

I suppose one obvious defense of juries would be that they reduce the likelihood of mass injustice at the hands of a corrupt court that sees itself as beholden to no one (or as beholden only to a corrupt government).
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Old 10-14-2005, 08:41 PM   #5
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Re: The jury system

Quote:
Originally posted by sarit
I was just wondering-did the jury system was established when the US was founded or was it already there before that (British colonies phase)? Or only at some point afterwards?

Who thought of it and what were the pros/cons?

I for myself fail to see any benefit to it. It seems, well, just not right to let people without any relevant training (regardless of their intellectual abilities) to determine if a man will be free or not.
They are selected (by lawyers) on the basis of their potential ampathy towards the defendant (or lack of one) on the basis of same/different race, social-economical background, etc…
Lawyers are more likely to turn to the juries’ emotions instead of their logic-a method that works many times.

Why not just let the judge actually JUDGE?
I'll be happy if someone can come up with the benefits...

I was also wondering if there were serious public debates about it in The United States in recent years.
The jury systems has direct ties to common English law, but has ties to many ancient cultures.

The primary goal of a jury was to take certain legal decision making out of the controlling body's hand (the government) in favor of a group of peers.

While much can be made of the jury selection process (making good drama in movies), there has been no clear methodology permitted today that unreasonably favors one side over the other. And while some evidence will be produced to sway jurors, it must be done in a way that gives the opposing side the opportunity to challenge and rebut.

Juries do not occur in all legal trial, and can only be waived by decision of both parties in the matter.

There have been some movements to suggest that juries hold far more power than currently granted, going as far as to allow independent investigation or ignoring instructions in formulating a decision.

By and large, it is quite a successful system.
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Old 10-14-2005, 09:23 PM   #6
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Re: Re: The jury system

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader



There have been some movements to suggest that juries hold far more power than currently granted, going as far as to allow independent investigation or ignoring instructions in formulating a decision.

By and large, it is quite a successful system.
In West Michigan we had a one-man Grand Jury that was initially working on the case of a young girl that was assaulted and murdered, but also brought in people and solved a bunch of gang related crimes and other crimes in the area. The judge who was the "one man" spoke to us in our criminal investigations course and I was amazed the power he had and how much was accomplished.

Having recently gone through the process of being selected to sit on a jury, I have faith that our legal system is the best. Of course, there are mistakes and times when it doesn't work like it should, but I can't think of any way that would be as fair.
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