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judges for jury

don't let the public make the decisions
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I've often wondered why "ordinary" members of the public are allowed to do jury service. Ideologically, it's a sound concept: the decision is left in the hands of a cross-sectional group of unbiased members of the public; in reality, are they truly unbiased? How can a supposedly random choice of people hope to represent a whole society's conception of the legality of the situation? how can the courtroom, and in particular the defendant, trust that the decisions made will be well-considered, fair-minded and just?

Instead, why not compose the jury of a group of people who have been specially trained to be fair-minded and knowledgable about the legal system...like QCs?

Judges, after all, have power over the 'direction' of the court (who speaks when, whether someone is speaking out of turn etc etc), which ultimately effects what evidence that is presented or left out in the trial. In this way, they are indirectly effecting the jury's decision by controlling what is and what isn't presented to them. By composing the jury of other off-duty judges, you would get a decision based on the average of each judges understanding of the facts and how the legal system applies to them.

simonkey, Feb 24 2003

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       There have been recent cases in UK where paedophiles have been convicted by a jury, then treated leniently by a judge. (One can only speculate as to the reason, but the words 'fellow feeling' spring to mind.) If the jury had been composed of judges, they would probably not even have been convicted. There are quite enough career criminals with convictions roaming the streets when they should be in prison; we really don't need any more.
angel, Feb 24 2003
  

       The purpose of the jury is not to make a decision on law but to make a decision on fact - did the defend(er/ant) do X? They have the law explained to them and present their verdict on the basis of their decision of fact coupled with the stated definition of the law.   

       Where there is any dubiety as to the nature of the law, the judge will make a statement as to what the law is, which the lawyers for the accused will most likely appeal to a higher court, where the point of law is decided by judges. [OK, so this is a gross oversimplifcation but it'll do in the circs.]   

       In controlling what can and cannot be considered as evidence by the jury, the judge is following strict rules on the admissibility of evidence which have been put in place to ensure the fairness of the trial.   

       [angel], to suggest that judges in juries would be more likely to return not guilty verdicts than laypeople in juries on the basis of selected examples of "lenient" sentencing is to make a statement without any basis in rational logic - findings of fact are _not the same_ as decisions on sentencing and in each, wildly different information must be taken into account. Judges are, by and large, rational human beings and would, if used as jurors, be quite well able to understand their new role.
my face your, Feb 24 2003
  

       Maybe they could be picked at random ?   

       A slightly better scheme than the current jury system; citizens are inducted to be jurors for one year. It's a form of "National Service". They recieve one month's compulsory basic legal instruction. They then spend a further month observig trials and legal processes, fro visiting a busy police station at one end to a prison visit at another; they learn about pathology, also see offenders performing community service, and perhaps in drug rehabilitation. They talk to victims of crime, too.   

       The for ten months they spend their time trying cases with better insight into the whole process, instead of being flung into it head first with no understanding. When they finish, they will have a much better understanding of tle law, and "justice".   

       Objections to this might be (i) high costs, and (ii) the risk of producing a steady stream of cynical and disillusoned ex-jurors.
8th of 7, Feb 24 2003
  

       That won't work, 8th. A person suited for one jury might not be suited for another.
waugsqueke, Feb 24 2003
  

       I was envisaging quite a large "pool" so that conflicts of interest etc. could be avoided. One might even be able to pick on jurors with specialist knowledge, who are none the less impartial, and separate from the judicial process.
8th of 7, Feb 24 2003
  

       I can't imagine why you'd want juries to visit victims of crime/watch offenders performing community service/visit the police, 8th. If such information is relevant, it will be brought up during the trial. The jury is (and I know I'm labouring this point) the finder of fact, based solely on the information presented at trial.
my face your, Feb 24 2003
  

       What do you call a Judge with no thumbs? Jusice Fingers.
sufc, Feb 24 2003
  

       // why you'd want juries to visit victims of crime/watch offenders performing community service/visit the police //   

       To give them insight into the processes by which evidence is gathered, allowing them to weigh the presented facts "judiciously", and bring home to them the seriousness of the role society is asking them to perform.
8th of 7, Feb 24 2003
  

       A further point: Jurors are not selected, in the U.S., anyway, at random. Just the opposite in fact; jury selection is a highly rigorous, strategized and involved proceeding.
snarfyguy, Feb 24 2003
  

       8th, though your second reason is good and valid, I don't really think your first reason is relevant - if evidence is admissible, then it is sound.
my face your, Feb 24 2003
  

       The only potential problem I see is that the profesional jurrors would be known as jurrors and be subject to pressure from syndicates such as organized crime, organized religion and organized government. I agree that John Q is an idiot and really shouldn't make decisions about life, death or taxes.
ato_de, Feb 24 2003
  

       Then who should? Some ultra right wing judge appointed by a dangerous and stupid bigot?
snarfyguy, Feb 24 2003
  

       [Dimandja]:
(1) Why?
(2) Supreme Court justices are by no means the only appointed judges in the U.S.
snarfyguy, Feb 24 2003
  

       I figured. But if on the off chance you weren't...
snarfyguy, Feb 24 2003
  

       (no offense to our esteemed colleague, jurist)
Juri$t$ can be bought.
thumbwax, Feb 24 2003
  

       I can understand your concerns with regards to appointing the jurors (and let's call them "specially trained jurors", rather than "judges" since this appears to be contentious), possible erosion of civil liberties, and susceptibility to corruption; surely though, these issues would have to be tackled independantly - it's not good to dismiss an solution because it presents new problems (which pretty much all modern-day developments in any discipline do)....this isn't a 'quick fix' I'm suggesting; it would have to fit into a larger legal framework which would doubtless involve many developments.   

       I recently had a friend who did jury duty in the UK on a case that lasted for a week. She was either in court or considering evidence for most of her waking day and confessed that it was physically and emotional exhausting. Most of what she had to learn in order to understand what was going on were the legal and courtroom 'basics'. Surely having to "catch up" on all this knowledge jeopardizes the reasoning capabilities of the jury. It sounds flippant but: when I have to concentrate for long periods I get a headache. When I get a headache I am in a bad mood. When I'm in a bad mood I sometimes make incorrect decisions......
simonkey, Feb 25 2003
  

       ... like posting this idea, for example.
thumbwax, Feb 25 2003
  

       Huh? What's shocking about crack dealers? They're a dime a dozen.
waugsqueke, Feb 25 2003
  

       Damn, that's a good price.
thumbwax, Feb 25 2003
  

       In England there is only one type of Court that has a jury - and they only go there when a collection of "Juges" decide they can't handle the case...   

       Where's the problem?
Ossalisc, Jan 27 2004
  

       i get your point...in a normal court room, shouldn't a judge get to decide instead of the jury? what is the point of the judge anyway exept for the arguing?
lumpysausage007, Feb 12 2005
  
      
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