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Hide the Defendant From the Jury

and don't cross examine them.
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Sometimes a defendant testifies. Sometimes they don't. I believe that Juries are instructed that whether or not a defendant testifies is not evidence for or against them. In addition, we have the 5th amendment here where the defendant is not required to answer a question, but a Jury, despite instructions to the contrary, is likely to be influenced if it appears that the defendant is hiding behind that.

In addition, a jury is likely to be influenced by a defendant who is a very good actor. Someone who is very nervous can often appear guilty, even if they are innocent.

When sentencing occurs, the level of remorse of the defendant is often considered, but someone who happened to be falsely convicted may show no remorse, and a psychopath who is likely to re-offend might be a very good actor.

Even the act of pleading guilty or not guilty should not really affect the sentence. The logic is that if a person admits they are wrong, they are less dangerous, but in reality it's mainly just a game played through the lawyers. If the lawyer thinks the evidence is too great, they may advise pleading guilty or even work out a plea bargain for pleading guilty to a lesser crime. A guilty plea should still be allowed for someone who really is guilty and doesn't want to sit through a long trial, but it shouldn't change the ultimate sentence.

So to a large degree, other than helping pointing out facts that may invalidate the prosecution's evidence, the defendant should not really be involved in the trial. The important thing about the right of the defendant to face their accuser is so that they can be aware of all of the proceedings of their trial since each person is their own best advocate. Also witnesses should generally be required to face the person they are accusing.

Therefore I propose that courtrooms be rearranged so the jury never actually sees the defendant. The defendant should sit next to the jury with a wall of separation so both the defendant and the Jury have a similar view of the courtroom. The defendant should have a way to observe the jury, and should probably have access to video tapes since they can't watch the prosecution, judge and jury at the same time. The defendant would not be called a a witness, but could present facts to the court through the defense attorney.

This would reinforce to the jury that justice is blind. It would reduce prejudices. It would prevent people who have a false sense of their ability to judge a person based on appearance or demeanor from incorrectly making a decision based on the acting ability of the defendant. Now I wonder if the name of the defendant, or even the gender, should be withheld from the Jury. Of course gender would be especially hard to enforce since a witness could easily refer to the defendant with a gender specific pronoun.

Okay, there are probably some good reasons this isn't a good idea, but it seemed like an interesting concept to throw out there.

scad mientist, Nov 12 2014

The Man With The Stick http://www.cultbrit...eeves-mortimer3.jpg
[calum, Nov 14 2014]

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       Perhaps hide the jury from each other as well? What about people who defend themselves? What about other, general things?
pocmloc, Nov 12 2014
  

       If the jury can't see the defendant, they'll focus on the lawyers. If they can't see either, they'll focus on the voice. If it's all done through writing, the word choice will matter. The only way to achieve what you are looking for would be for the entire trial to be conducted anonymously in writing, with the same person re-writing the arguments from both sides in order to remove any vocabulary or grammar influences (probably through more than one layer of rewrites).
MechE, Nov 12 2014
  

       I sometimes think we go a little far in our(desperate) quest to keep the jury isolated from relevant facts. Like not being able to mention a history of sex crimes during a trial for (more) sex crimes. I personally think that's rather pertinent information.   

       Likewise, I think the demeanour of the defendent really is part of the picture. Certainly their answers under cross-examination are relevant, although I think that badgering or goading the defendent should be prevented.   

       //What about other, general things?// Nice one.
Custardguts, Nov 12 2014
  

       I don't think that anyone on trial for their life or even facing time can be judged based on how they emotionally react to the charges. I think depression would quickly set in and make a person emotionless as a basic coping mechanism. So I'm dubious of the whole "shows remorse" factor weight in any decision.
RayfordSteele, Nov 13 2014
  

       Well, at least it's not in...oh, wait - Sorry. It IS in other general.   

       Never mind.
normzone, Nov 13 2014
  

       // Other: General //   

       Sorry, I thought the system used to automatically put it in the category I was browsing when I create a new idea. I forgot to check. Fixed...
scad mientist, Nov 13 2014
  

       Just as an aside to this discussion - I did jury service in a Coroner's court (i.e. deciding what happened in cases of suspicious deaths) and any member of the jury is allowed to cross-examine witnesses - an excellent way to run a courtroom.
hippo, Nov 13 2014
  

       //Sorry, I thought the system used to automatically put it in the category I was browsing when I create a new idea.//   

       If you're viewing an idea, it does. If you're in the category, it does not.
Loris, Nov 13 2014
  

       Actually, getting questioned by the jury seems like a reasonable good idea (of course somewhat incompatible with this idea). That ought to be less intimidating for an innocent person because unlike the prosecuting attorney, the jury is just trying to find the truth, not attempting to get a conviction. It might also be good because normally you have the whole jury listening for inconsistencies in the testimony, but only the lawyers can ask follow up questions and one person may miss something that a jury member noticed.   

       Of course it could sometimes get weird if there's a jury member who has seen too many courtroom dramas and wants to try and trick the defendant into incriminating themselves.
scad mientist, Nov 13 2014
  

       Not all jury members subscribe to a standard set of logic in their questions. Personally, I'd rather have my guilt decided by an advanced level AI.
RayfordSteele, Nov 13 2014
  

       // The only way to achieve what you are looking for would be for the entire trial to be conducted anonymously in writing, with the same person re- writing the arguments from both sides in order to remove any vocabulary or grammar influences (probably through more than one layer of rewrites).//   

       I'll bun that.
Voice, Nov 13 2014
  

       Assuming I am the defendant, I volunteer to hide myself on a remote beach, possibly in Asia, just public spirited me.
not_morrison_rm, Nov 14 2014
  

       Yes, perhaps just leave the defendant in the cells.
pocmloc, Nov 14 2014
  

       //The only way to achieve what you are looking for would be for the entire trial to be conducted anonymously in writing, with the same person re-writing the arguments from both sides in order to remove any vocabulary or grammar influences (probably through more than one layer of rewrites).//   

       That person would need to be an entirely disinterested third party to remove any bias.
RayfordSteele, Nov 14 2014
  

       I was thinking about running it through like a 5-10 language google translate loop, making sure to include at least three different language families to make sure the roots get really messed up. That's about the most neutral approach I can think of.   

       Or you could parcel out single sentences or paragraphs to different people, such that none of them really have the sense of the argument being made.
MechE, Nov 14 2014
  

       I think that we have identified the core problem with the typical western model of justice: it involves people. If we can effectively dehumanise the accused, they will be prevented from swaying the jurors (or the judge in summary cases) with their face, appearance, bearing etc. Perhaps the most cost effective fix is to make them wear (a) a large head mask like the Man With The Stick or (b) a cardboard box robot costume.
calum, Nov 14 2014
  

       If proceedings took place in pitch darkness, there would be less prejudice for or against defendants, and also judges who were asleep, or jurors who slipped out of their clothes because it was hot.
bungston, Nov 14 2014
  

       In darkness, with all communication by morse code, tapped with canes?
pocmloc, Nov 14 2014
  

       //other than helping pointing out facts that may invalidate the prosecution's evidence, the defendant should not really be involved in the trial//

Isn't that just another way of saying that the defendant *should* be involved with the trial? After all, what do you think that the defendant's testimony is?
DrBob, Nov 14 2014
  

       Well, surely the best way is not to tell the defendant he's on trial somewhere, just do the whole thing in secret. Also saves the defendant getting stressed out and/or having to take time off work.
not_morrison_rm, Nov 14 2014
  
      
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