Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums
Sign in to follow this  
?Impact

Criminal Justice System - Jury or not, and how?

Recommended Posts

I am placing this here to try and keep away from the partisan bickering in the politics section and discuss the criminal justice system and how decisions should be made. This is for any criminal trial where the accused may face incarceration, not for civil trials.

First some very brief and incomplete history.

At one time God decided the guilt or innocence of the accused. This was known as trial by ordeal, or trial by fire and water. It could involve the accused walking over red hot iron a given distance, being repeatedly dunked into a stream, retrieving a heavy rock from boiling water, having molten metal poured on ones chest, etc. If one lived, or escaped serious injury then they were innocent. This was a simple and infallible system because God made the choice. Unfortunately the Pope banned this practice many centuries ago so man now has to make the decisions.

We can have nobility make the decisions, we can have professionals (ie. Judges) make the decisions, and we can have juries made up of citizens make decisions. While I am all for nobility making the decisions, we have a lack of nobility in this country and certainly not enough to hear all the criminal cases we have so that leaves Judges and Juries.

I will start off the conversation with Juries and their makeup. Our judicial system is heavily influenced by the British one, so we should start there. Thanks to Henry II in 1166 we have the evidentiary model in which laymen, knights, and freemen under oath would inspect the evidence through inquiry. Not long after that the concept of peremptory challenges was introduced where the involved parties (or legal representative) were allowed refuse certain members of this jury. Initially 35 peremptory challenges were allotted for each side, and as time went on this number was reduced to 20 in 1509 and continued to be reduced when in 1977 it went from 7 to 3 and abolished completely in 1988. It was seen as a derogation from the principle of random selection, and felt that its removal would increase the fairness of the jury system.

In Canada we generally have around 12 peremptory challenges allotted to each side in criminal trials, and this certainly has been seen as a problem by some Canadians as creating a biased jury.

How should criminal convictions be decided? Should we continue to have ordinary citizens make decisions in a jury, and how should that jury be selected? Should decisions only be made by professionals (ie. judges)?

Edited by ?Impact

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More background is needed here....

  • trials determine a guilty or not guilty verdict, unless there is a mistrial declared or other special outcome...not innocence.   This is an important distinction.
  • indictable offenses with stiff penalties usually afford the accused the choice of judge or jury trial in Canada.
  • the conviction rate in Canada discounting abandoned prosecution and other technicalities is quite high...greater than 90%.
  • experts/professionals are invaluable for evidence discovery and analysis, but not final conviction/acquittal by one's "peers".
  • the overwhelming power of the state requires protections and rights for the accused.

http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/just-3-of-criminal-cases-end-in-aquittal

So before a trial ever reaches a judge/jury, the case has been scrutinized for many factors that would result in a finding of not-guilty.

Edited by bush_cheney2004
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does it work exactly? Random adult citizens are picked to the jury and that is considered as a public duty?

The justice-system varies somewhat between the Anglo-Saxon countries as compared to the European countries as in the USA, the UK etc the judge has much more power as the system is based on the so-called common-law system. In European countries the judges have limited leeway on declaring sentences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, -TSS- said:

How does it work exactly? Random adult citizens are picked to the jury and that is considered as a public duty?

 

Not quite random...most jurisdictions in Canada and the USA maintain a jury "pool" at local levels of government made up of citizens selected from voting records, property owners, drivers licenses, or other public identity records.   Membership in the pool starts with a summons and provisions to decline attendance for extenuating circumstances.   Actual jurors and juror alternates for civil and criminal trials are selected from the standing jury pool.    "Jury duty" can last for several weeks, and longer for a juror in a prolonged trial.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, you mean that those people have volunteered for the jury-duty and are unlikely trying to avoid it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, -TSS- said:

So, you mean that those people have volunteered for the jury-duty and are unlikely trying to avoid it?

 

They are not "volunteers" in the truest sense, as jury duty is a responsibility of citizenship subject to a binding court summons.  Many people do try to avoid it because it can be very inconvenient and disruptive to jurors, employers, and families.   Jurors are compensated with a small amount of money to offset expenses, and most large employers pay wages for jury duty (tax deductible).

Ignoring the summons for jury duty can result in contempt of court charges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that people in the USA take the jury-duty quite seriously and consider it as privilege and trying to avoid it is quite rare. Perhaps only in cases of serious crimes which involve organised crime people may have second thoughts about attending the jury.

However, I also have thought that if you really want to avoid the jury-duty it is not difficult as both sides of the trial interview all the prospective jurors and if you manage to make yourself seem biased one way or another either side of the trial may demand that you are not suitable to be a member of the jury and you must go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Working people rarely volunteer for jury duty.  Most jurors are unemployed, retired or civil servants.  The rest of us cant afford to take the time off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, -TSS- said:

I understand that people in the USA take the jury-duty quite seriously and consider it as privilege and trying to avoid it is quite rare. Perhaps only in cases of serious crimes which involve organised crime people may have second thoughts about attending the jury.

However, I also have thought that if you really want to avoid the jury-duty it is not difficult as both sides of the trial interview all the prospective jurors and if you manage to make yourself seem biased one way or another either side of the trial may demand that you are not suitable to be a member of the jury and you must go.

 

Agreed, but it is not as glamorous or exciting as depicted in U.S. television/film crime dramas.   Some prospective jurors are profiled with a questionaire and are immediately dismissed as unqualified for jury duty.   There is a separate court proceeding to sit a full jury + alternates before the trial begins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, ?Impact said:

In Canada we generally have around 12 peremptory challenges allotted to each side in criminal trials, and this certainly has been seen as a problem by some Canadians as creating a biased jury.

How should criminal convictions be decided? Should we continue to have ordinary citizens make decisions in a jury, and how should that jury be selected? Should decisions only be made by professionals (ie. judges)?

Well, if we know that allotting peremptory challenges is a problem lets stop doing it - we can change the bathwater without losing the baby. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, eyeball said:

Well, if we know that allotting peremptory challenges is a problem lets stop doing it - we can change the bathwater without losing the baby. 

Or change the number allowed. I am not a professional on this issue but I have to believe their is a reason they do it in the first place. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, -TSS- said:

I understand that people in the USA take the jury-duty quite seriously and consider it as privilege and trying to avoid it is quite rare.

Where did you get that understanding from, a propaganda film? Take the example of Donald Trump, in 2015 he actually responded to a jury summons, knowing full well that he would automatically be excused because he was running for President at the time. Quite conveniently he "never received" the previous five jury summons from earlier years. I don't think Trump is unique here in trying to avoid the jury draft. Sure doing your civic duty might be seen as the right thing to do, but when push comes to shove it is for most a big inconvenience they want to avoid.

I suspect the system in NYC simply puts someone who doesn't appear higher on the list of possible candidates for future lotteries instead of following up with actual charges. The bigger problem it causes is you end up with people who do want to serve, and those are the last people you really want because they more than likely are very biased to begin with.

Edited by ?Impact

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, ?Impact said:

At one time God decided the guilt or innocence of the accused... Unfortunately the Pope banned this practice many centuries ago so man now has to make the decisions.

We can have nobility make the decisions, ... While I am all for nobility making the decisions, we have a lack of nobility in this country and certainly not enough to hear all the criminal cases we have so that leaves Judges and Juries.

 

?Impact, I am gob-smacked to read something which reflects my own beliefs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the Europeans use a panel of three judges. I bet that speeds things up considerably simply because you don't need to waste a day or so choosing the jury, every aspect of the law doesn't have to be spelled out in minute detail to the jury, and because judges, being professionals, will be considered to be less easily influenced by attorneys acting up and grandstanding, by junk science, or by mindless stupidity. There is no reason to think this would lead to fewer minorities being convicted, however. I doubt a panel of three judges would have let OJ Simpson off, for example. And since in this case a judge found justification to be brandishing a firearm and firing warning shots all that needed to be established was reasonable doubt as to his story of the misfire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Topaz said:

What's the opinion of a polygraph for everyone being accused as a guide line for a judge or jury to help ?

Polygraphs are not sufficiently accurate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Accountability Now said:

Or change the number allowed. I am not a professional on this issue but I have to believe their is a reason they do it in the first place. 

I'm just afraid it'll be some ancient reason that's steeped in the rights and privileges of wealthy powerful people - probably the reason little if anything has been done to change it in the past.  It certainly sounds like its been recognized as a problem for awhile now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, and polygraphs are not admissible in court.

TSS: a jury duty summons is likely to be met with "Oh, damn it I have to be a f****** juror! How the hell can I get out of this?" That's a more accurate assessment. But to me, it's an important thing. I cannot imagine living somewhere where the decisions of imprisoning me for the rest of my life are made by a judge--or even several--might have come into the court room a little pissed off that afternoon, rather than a group of 12 people who have to agree, even if they might not be "experts". We've had juries since the Magna Carta.

There's also a distinction here: in countries that use juries (at least in the  States) there is a demarcation between something which is a question of FACT (decided by the jury) or something which is a question of LAW (decided by the judge).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/23/2018 at 7:27 AM, JamesHackerMP said:

] I cannot imagine living somewhere where the decisions of imprisoning me for the rest of my life are made by a judge--or even several--might have come into the court room a little pissed off that afternoon, rather than a group of 12 people who have to agree, even if they might not be "experts". We've had juries since the Magna Carta.

The question is do they more reliably render fair and just verdicts than a three judge panel, as is used in some western European nations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not only that but you can't just change it now that our justice system has been based on juries for hundreds of years (not America's specifically, but its English predecessor).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/29/2018 at 11:09 AM, JamesHackerMP said:

Not only that but you can't just change it now that our justice system has been based on juries for hundreds of years (not America's specifically, but its English predecessor).

Of course you can. And should. The American legal system, like Canada's, is a vastly expensive, time consuming mess. It consumes a huge amount of your GDP compared to other countries with more sensible legal systems. 

In France they have one lawyer for every 1400 people. In the US it's one for every 300. Have you ever considered why that is?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, JamesHackerMP said:

Define "sensible legal system".

One which strives for form over substance, justice over legalism, end results over process. One which does not require years to deal with even the simplest case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Argus said:

One which strives for form over substance, justice over legalism, end results over process. One which does not require years to deal with even the simplest case.

A good example is in the Peoples' Republic of China. When a crime is committed, the police decide who did it and arrest the suspect. The suspect is taken into court where a judge listens to the prosecutor and then pronounces the defendant guilty. The prisoner is then taken out and has his brains blown out, or, for minor crimes, sent to a hard labour camp. Some people are acquitted if they have political pull and lots of money to compensate the judge and police. Quick, efficient and cheap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Queenmandy85 said:

A good example is in the Peoples' Republic of China. When a crime is committed, the police decide who did it and arrest the suspect. The suspect is taken into court where a judge listens to the prosecutor and then pronounces the defendant guilty. The prisoner is then taken out and has his brains blown out, or, for minor crimes, sent to a hard labour camp. Some people are acquitted if they have political pull and lots of money to compensate the judge and police. Quick, efficient and cheap.

This is the type of answer the Left usually coughs up when you talk about health care reform. The immediately start shrieking about how you must want American style health care.

Guess what? There is a point somewhere between the extremes of "three years to have a trial" and "guilty immediately with no proof required".

Suggesting the only alternative to a more efficient, effective system is China is intellectually barren.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...