Are Scientists Being Excluded from Juries?

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In summary: On one hand you have the prosecutor trying to get an engineer or scientist to be a "technical expert" on their side to give them an edge in understanding the technical aspects of the case. On the other hand you have the defense attorney trying to get an engineer or scientist to be a "rational thinker" on their side to give them an edge in understanding the technical aspects of the case. These attempts are usually unsuccessful because the jury wants to hear from an expert who can bring credibility to their knowledge, not just someone who agrees with them. I think a scientist would be only as accurate as a non-scientist.Are you suggesting using the scientific method to determine innocence or guilt
  • #1
sysprog
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Do you find that you are or may be, as a scientist, engineer, mathematician, or other technically learned person, more likely than other persons to be by lawyers disqualified or excused from jury duty?

It seems to me that a lawyer who knows that he has a weak case might tend to reject scientifically-minded jurors, but a defense attorney might prefer a juror who routinely requires rigorous proof before deciding that something is definitely true, over a juror who has a 'something bad happened, wherefore justice requires that someone must pay' attitude -- on the whole, I think that prosecutors, more than defense attorneys, are more apt to try whenever they can to remove STEM people from juries.

I've never served on a jury, even though I've received mailings the printed content of which alleged that I had a lawful duty to do so. I reasoned that I had not been properly served with a summons, and consequently I disregarded the mailing as junk mail. Later I got another mailing that said that I had to show cause regarding why I had not shown up in response to the prior mailing. I reasoned that this also was not a proper summons, and accordingly I disregarded that mailing too. From that inaction of mine, no to-me-apprehensible consequences whatever ensued.

So now I think that juries may be skewed in the direction of admitting only highly tractable people, who are likely to be obedient when they get a computer-generated notice in the mail, instead of waiting to hear the Sheriff pounding on the door before deciding that they should pay heed.

I am not really against serving on a jury, but I am against my having to prove in advance that I'm what I would regard as overly willing to accept as proven something that is not in my opinion adequately proven, so I have, in my opinion, thereby felt compelled to do ignorings that have resulted in my being absent from the jury pool, and have as a consequence deprived it of part of its legitimacy.
 
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  • #2
On the other hand a prosecutor with a strong case would select for a STEM juror. While the defense will be selecting for SAPS. Actually I would like to see all professional jurors (employed by the state) preferably with science education so as to decide on facts more likely.
 
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  • #3
morrobay said:
preferably with science education so as to decide on facts more likely

Is this likely to be true?
 
  • #4
Tghu Verd said:
Is this likely to be true?
By construction.
 
  • #5
morrobay said:
Actually I would like to see all professional jurors (employed by the state)

You mean "employed by one side in a criminal trial"?

No, nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
 
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  • #6
morrobay said:
By construction.

I'll admit I've no idea what this means, @morrobay, but I've a science education and I doubt I could determine the facts of a detailed genetic argument as a juror. Outside my area of expertise, so apart from an inquiring mind, I'd be bringing my own biases and blinkers to the job, just like everyone else.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50 said:
You mean "employed by one side in a criminal trial"?

No, nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
Professional jurors, employed by the state, would be independent of sides and are just assigned to any given case.
 
  • #8
We are guaranteed a jury of our peers and I doubt that the accused would consider a scientist a peer.
 
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  • #9
chemisttree said:
We are guaranteed a jury of our peers and I doubt that the accused would consider a scientist a peer.
How about the general public being guaranteed the most objective result in any case. And by the way if you were accused of something you did not do - who would you rather have on a jury. And if the accused is guilty I know who I would want on a jury.
 
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  • #10
morrobay said:
Professional jurors, employed by the state, would be independent of sides and are just assigned to any given case.
But the state is the prosecuting side of the case.
 
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  • #11
I think a scientist would be only as accurate as a non-scientist. Are you suggesting using the scientific method to determine innocence or guilt? Why would a scientist be a better juror when asked to consider extenuating circumstances for example? Have you ever met a scientist or engineer who thinks their opinion is the only correct one... even when they’re wrong? Ever known a scientist or engineer to only consider their own worldview? Know any scientists or engineers that know little about forensics but could be convinced they are practically experts by an expert witness perhaps because they graduated from the same university or they understood a bit of statistics?
 
  • #12
I will tell you my own experience as a scientist/engineer. I have been called to serve on juries 3-4 times. I have always been stricken. I think the OP is right. The lawyers on one side or the other don't want analytical thinkers because they are difficult to sway.
 
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  • #13
chemisttree said:
I think a scientist would be only as accurate as a non-scientist. Are you suggesting using the scientific method to determine innocence or guilt? Why would a scientist be a better juror when asked to consider extenuating circumstances for example? Have you ever met a scientist or engineer who thinks their opinion is the only correct one... even when they’re wrong? Ever known a scientist or engineer to only consider their own worldview? Know any scientists or engineers that know little about forensics but could be convinced they are practically experts by an expert witness perhaps because they graduated from the same university or they understood a bit of statistics?
I'm not saying that scientists are necessarily better jurors; however, I am saying that I think that lawyers with weaker cases tend to prefer less critical thinkers as jurors.
 
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  • #14
phyzguy said:
I will tell you my own experience as a scientist/engineer. I have been called to serve on juries 3-4 times. I have always been stricken.
Same here.
 
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  • #15
chemisttree said:
Same here.
Me three!
phyzguy said:
The lawyers on one side or the other don't want analytical thinkers because they are difficult to sway.
I always figured it was because, given their skepticism, which side they came down on was less predictable.
 
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  • #16
TeethWhitener said:
Me three!

I always figured it was because, given their skepticism, which side they came down on was less predictable.
Yep! Lawyers tend to remove the wild cards and they might not trust their own analysis of sizing up someone when it comes to techies.
 
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  • #17
TeethWhitener said:
The sixth amendment to the US constitution says in part, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..." That right is concomitant with a duty of the state to provide an impartial jury. The state is free to choose that jury as it sees fit, and it sees fit by drawing from the citizens at random.

You're welcome to explain that to the judge.
Voter registration lists are far from random.

A long time ago jurors were selected by being handed a summons on the street.

Passerby: What's this?
Sheriff's Deputy: It's a jury summons.
Passerby: Drat. Oh, wrinkles. Alright, I suppose I'll just have to be there then, won't I?
Deputy: Yes, Sir, that's right.

That wasn't so random either. I can't imagine that derelicts, or people who worked far away from the downtown office of a Deputy Sheriff, were in those days likely to be summoned for jury duty.
 
  • #18
In case anyone's curious, here's the US code on jury selection:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/1863
Individual states and other jurisdictions have their own codes.
Of some relevance from the above code:
"Among other things, such plan shall— ... specify whether the names of prospective jurors shall be selected from the voter registration lists or the lists of actual voters of the political subdivisions within the district or division. The plan shall prescribe some other source or sources of names in addition to voter lists where necessary to foster the policy and protect the rights secured by sections 1861 and 1862 of this title. ... specify detailed procedures to be followed by the jury commission or clerk in selecting names from the sources specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection. These procedures shall be designed to ensure the random selection of a fair cross section of the persons residing in the community in the district or division wherein the court convenes. "
 
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  • #19
I have been voir-dired only once (though I have kicked back in the bit jury selection waiting room a few times without being called to voir dire). After answering questions about my job and education (physics bachelor with masters in engineering) the defense attorney asked me "If you had to decide the case right now what would your verdict be?" I started to mumble something about having no facts, no basis for a decision either way - but quickly caught myself: "not guilty." The defense attorney smiled, but so did the prosecutor, and so did the judge. I was selected.

On voter rolls. Here's a story I was told. Hartford county, CT uses voter rolls and has for many years. Eventually people noticed that juries seemed to be overwhelmingly from the surrounding towns, resulting in city-dwelling minority citizens being juried by white suburbanites. Why? It turned out, when the jury lists were computerized, the field for town name was truncated to 7 letters. So if your residence was in Hartford, your town showed as Hartfor. And the next field was "living or deceased?" Guess where the "D" landed.

<Mod note: off-topic content removed>
 
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Thread temporarily closed pending mentor discussion.
Thread reopened following removal of many off-topic posts about illegal actiivities.
 
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  • #21
morrobay said:
On the other hand a prosecutor with a strong case would select for a STEM juror. While the defense will be selecting for SAPS. Actually I would like to see all professional jurors (employed by the state) preferably with science education so as to decide on facts more likely.
Minus 'science' qualifier on education, does not this describe grand juries? After retirement my mother practically made a fourth career serving on grand juries. She received meals, travel expenses and a stipend often for months at a time.
 
  • #22
I have been called to jury duty many times as I always register to vote. Only selected to serve once on a minor case. An Apple tech (EE) and myself (math, computer science, electronics) were relegated to reserve status following voir dire. After hearing the evidence but not the main jury deliberations, I asked the district attorney to telephone the verdict. The "non-STEM" jurists rendered a verdict opposite to that of us technical reservists.
 
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  • #23
Mark44 said:
Thread temporarily closed pending mentor discussion.
Thread reopened following removal of many off-topic posts about illegal actiivities.
I hope that I didn't say anything that made any improper or inappropriate reference to illegal activities; I certainly did not intend to do such a thing; I continue to believe that it is improper and unlawful on the part of the State to use computers to mail things out that purport to be lawful summonses when they are in fact merely false impressions of summonses. A proper summons in my view is a person-to-person thing, I will never vote for imprisonment of someone without a human being having previously handed to me proper process. You, i.e., every human being, cannot require me to do anything, by typing something. Some human being has to hand me something. I think that otherwise I have the right, and in my view the moral obligation, to ignore it or to ask that you be prosecuted for it.
 
  • #24
Thread locked again.
sysprog said:
A proper summons in my view is a person-to-person thing, I will never vote for imprisonment of someone without a human being having previously handed to me proper process.
Your definition of a "proper summons" is probably not a correct generalization that is applicable to all states. I've been asked to be on a jury once, via a letter to me. I asked to be excused, as it would have been difficult to get someone to replace me for an extended time as a teacher in a college.
 
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What to do with this thread has been the subject of discussion by the mentors. After a lot of consideration, we've decided to leave the thread closed. Here is a comment by one of the other mentors:
This thread will stay locked because you (the OP) don't want to let go of the angle that is unacceptable for discussion: Individuals are not entitled to judge for themselves what is legal/illegal; that is for the legislature and courts to decide.

A jury summons is a legal document/summons. Period. The fact that you haven't been punished for ignoring one isn't evidence that the summons isn't legal, it's just evidence that typically the authorities don't care enough to enforce them.

And while it is true that today any piece of paper mail can easily be forged, a jury summons has built-in traceability for proving its authenticity via phone/internet/in person verification.

And I rather suspect you have never had your electricity turned-off over doubt of the authenticity of your electric bill.
 
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Related to Are Scientists Being Excluded from Juries?

1. What is the basis for excluding scientists from juries?

The basis for excluding scientists from juries is to ensure that the jury is made up of individuals who can be impartial and unbiased in their decision-making. Scientists are often seen as having specialized knowledge and expertise in their field, which may influence their judgment in a case.

2. Are scientists completely barred from serving on juries?

No, scientists are not completely barred from serving on juries. They may still be selected to serve if they do not have a conflict of interest or if their expertise is not relevant to the case being tried.

3. How are potential jurors' qualifications determined?

Potential jurors' qualifications are determined through a screening process conducted by the court. This process may involve filling out a questionnaire or being interviewed by the judge or attorneys to determine their qualifications, biases, and any conflicts of interest.

4. Are there any benefits to having scientists on a jury?

Yes, having scientists on a jury can provide valuable insights and expertise in cases that involve complex scientific evidence. They may also be able to help educate their fellow jurors on scientific concepts and evidence, leading to a more informed decision.

5. Are there any efforts being made to include scientists on juries?

Yes, there have been efforts to include scientists on juries, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science and Law Program. This program aims to increase the participation of scientists and engineers in the legal system, including serving on juries.

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