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Professional jurists

  1. Nov 29, 2005 #1

    Pengwuino

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    Now here's an idea that might piss off a few lawyers. I overheard someone talking about this and i wanted to present it to you crazy people and get some opinions. What if juries were filled with professional jurists? This was their job... to be jurists. They would recieve basic legal training, take courses on how to see past psychological tricks many lawyers use, and various other skills one would want a fair jurist to have but just doesn't have the resources to teach them to have. Opinions? Complaints? Penguins rule?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2005 #2

    matthyaouw

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    I'd remove some of the impartiality wouldn't it?

    They did this (kind of) in ancient Athens. Jury service was voluntary, but paid, so all you had to do was turn up at the courts if you fancied some quick money. It was quite popular with elderly citizens who were a bit strapped for cash. This system was pretty open to corruption and bribery though, if the playwrite Aristophanes is to be believed (though I do doubt his credibility at times).

    Penguins are ok. Monkeys are cooler.
     
  4. Nov 29, 2005 #3
    It seems like it would be too easy to abuse the system. Currently, lawyers do not really know the jury. If you had professionals there would be a mush smaller pool and law firms have a lot of resources to put into studying people and which way they might vote. They already do this. Now imagine that they had a couple of years. They could play with every jurors mind. Is this better than the somewhat clueless juries that we see now? I don't have answers, just more questions.

    On another note, who would pay them? The state or feds? Would they then be employees of the government? Wouldn't that be a slight conflict of interest? What happens when there is a juror work shortage? What if they unionize and make the courts even more bureaucratic? It seems a little troublesome. But an interesting idea.
     
  5. Nov 29, 2005 #4
    http://www.greenmac.com/eagle/ISSUES/ISSUE23-9/07JuryNullification.html

    A jury of citizens is supposed to be a safeguard allowing citizens to take part in the justice system so that their voices will be heard in regard to the law and the way it is being enforced. A "professional jury" would more or less negate this.

    ---edit---

    Judges and Lawyers don't like it when juries tamper with the way they think that the law should be enforced. They would probably be quite happy to have a professional jury.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2005
  6. Nov 29, 2005 #5

    Danger

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    I agree with Norman and Stats. Lawyers already know the leanings and temperaments of the judges that they encounter, and usually try to schedule their court time with those that they consider favourable. The situation would be less impartial if they could do the same with the jury pool.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2005 #6

    matthyaouw

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    If jury duty were an optional profession, certain groups would be over represented in relation to others. Where as random selection gives you a representative sample of the whole (eligable) population.
     
  8. Nov 29, 2005 #7
    which is why OJ and Beretta are free.
     
  9. Nov 29, 2005 #8
    Our juries already receive these things. Both my parents were randomly selected to serve.
     
  10. Nov 29, 2005 #9
    maybe they shouldn't let lawyers use psychological tricks
     
  11. Nov 29, 2005 #10

    Pengwuino

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    But I mean a far more indepth study. Plus of course, since this is their job, they actually are trying to do a good job because their job is on the line. No more leaking to the press, whistleblowing about the case, etc etc since they are actually accountable.

    The whole idea of representation based on the % of races being lost also won't happen because you still have a large number of jurists to select. It'll just be a bit unfortunate that people who would be "professional jurists" might do more or less work simply based on their race or economic status and the socioeconomic position of the defendents in various cases.
     
  12. Dec 1, 2005 #11

    honestrosewater

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    I think adding a trial by professional jurists as an option for the defendant would be nice. I'd like to have as many options as possible if I were in that situation. But I think something similar already exists -- a defendant can forgo the jury in most if not all cases and have their case decided by the judge. (I got to go home early from jury duty when someone did just that.)
     
  13. Dec 1, 2005 #12

    Pengwuino

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    Id take my chances with the professional jury. Just need a reasonable doubt whereas i bet a judge allows more leeway in his decisions...
     
  14. Dec 1, 2005 #13

    honestrosewater

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    Hm, I'm not sure whether or not I would expect a judge to follow the law even closer than a jury would follow it. If the specifics of the case didn't make one option clearly better, I guess my choice would depend on who I thought was more likely to get it right (i.e., convict the guilty and acquit the innocent) -- and whether or not I wanted them to get it right. :biggrin: What do you guys think happens there? I suspect that the judge gets it right more often.

    FYI: the level of proof may differ between criminal and civil cases, e.g., reasonable doubt in criminal cases and more likely than not ("preponderance of the evidence") in civil cases. Ever notice how often people who are acquitted in criminal cases are ruled against in civil cases?
     
  15. Dec 1, 2005 #14
    Pengwuino, I've often thought of the idea myself, but coming from a different angle. My beef is not so much with non-professional jurors as with judges and lawyers. This stems from when I was 10 yrs old and I read in the newspaper that a young teenage boy had been beaten by two other lads to within an inch of his life. Ended up spending months in hospital recovering. The two thugs were tried and found guilty, but the judge sentenced them to a mere two weeks community service each. The father of the boy (who was still in hospital) stood up in outrage and was sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court. This disgusted me (and is the ultimate source of my ongoing moral outrage at... everything ever since) and I have seen nothing in the next 16 years that has changed my opinion of the British judicial system.

    I also have a huge chip on my shoulder that a court case is anything other than a presentation and assessment of all the facts. The job of a lawyer is not to present the truth but to manipulate it and people to strengthen their case. This has nothing to do with justice. IMO, the fate of a man or woman should not depend on the relative experience of the prosecuting and defending lawyers.

    So I've often thought that both should be done away with a replaced by a professional panel, like the supreme court in the US, which receives evidence, questions witness, and passes verdict and sentence, all by collaboration. It would probably need work as a model court, but I think the basic idea is more condusive to a just judicial system.
     
  16. Dec 1, 2005 #15

    matthyaouw

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    Or... Professional jurors, randomly appointed lawyers from members of the public! No? ok.
     
  17. Dec 1, 2005 #16
    Sir/Madam:

    Professional juries are called "arbitration panels" by contract, collective or otherwise, many questions of fact and law are decided by selected persons with knowledge (hopefully) of the subect matter and/or the law of the dispute. Most major construction projects are governed by the form AIA contract, which has a mandatory arbitration provision.

    In some other examples, the judge has the authority to excercise discretion in consideration of both law and fact.

    Juries (when things are working properly) consider only facts. e.g., was the light red or green. Judges (ordinarily) determine how those facts relate to the applicable law(s). e.g. does ramming the other car when you have the red light mean that you are liable for the trashed Benz and the closed head trauma the chap that had the green light sustained. . .

    Good luck with things,

    Hank
     
  18. Dec 1, 2005 #17

    jcsd

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    I apologise for the anal nitpicking that must follow:

    Someone who sits on a jury is a juror, a jurist is a (professional) expert of law.

    I personally think juries are a nice idea, but in practice I think in practice simply having the judge as the judge of fact would be much more practical and efficent and probably lead to more consistent descisions.
     
  19. Dec 2, 2005 #18
    I'm really suprised that there are so many people willing to give up such an important part of the checks and balances in the legal system.
    I know that most people who find their way onto a jury are likely not too bright and that jury picking can make very sure of this but wouldn't it be better to fix it instead of get rid of it?
     
  20. Dec 3, 2005 #19

    honestrosewater

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    Just for fun... how would you fix it? Telling someone they aren't [blank] enough to serve on a jury would probably go over as well as telling them they aren't [blank] enough to vote. I guess trying to keep the selection process clean would be a good start, but how do you not interfere with the defendant having a say in choosing what they consider a fair jury? Or I don't know, are lawyers really that bad? Is the system actually broken?
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2005
  21. Dec 4, 2005 #20
    In regards to the roll of the jury the system is definitely not living up to what it is supposed to be from what I have read.
    I'm not saying that we should make certain requirements for being a juror necessarily but that we should do what we can to keep from having juries strategically selected in a battle between two lawyers trying to stack the jury. The two sides going back and forth is supposed to balance out I guess theoretically but do you think it really works out that way?
     
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