The jury system is risky because it is self selecting in terms of race and class. Also I honestly don’t know if I could sit through a jury trial. I’ve sat in on trials and they’re pretty boring. That being said, Judges have too much power and this type of system would likely favor the prosecution, so I think you do need to keep the jury, but just think of ways to improve it. I think a lot of the ideas we have discussed are great starts.
I think juries are worth saving. They need to be more representative, they need to be unanimous, we need to avoid death qualification via alternative routes or elimination of the death penalty, they need to be instructed better, and they need to be asked to go through checklists or explain their decisions. However I believe there is an enormous value in having a randomly selected jury of your peers rather than a single judge that is often appointed for a life tenure make the decision. Beyond that there is enormous value in collaboration and discussion. Yes human beings are flawed and will make biased decisions but all of our institutions are based on human beings making sometimes flawed decisions -- at the end of the end of the day all we can do is try to perfect the system to make it as fair as possible.
This discussion has opened my eyes to exactly how complicated achieving "equality" and "justice" is. I am enjoying the debate and hearing different peoples perspectives- but to be honest, I am getting more and more confused about where I stand on these topics each and every class.
I think it is worth saving in theory, but we would have to also solve racism and income inequality and all the other biases and inequalities (and rethink that we prosecute) in our society before the system can be actually redeemed
The jury is absolutely worth saving. Judges can dismiss charges on the law. The juries job is to do something different -- they are to decide whether the law ought to be applied to this particular defendant. I do not want to trust this majority moral determination to an elite repeat player in so many ways detached from those often accused. The offenses for which people are jailed ought to be able to be simply explained and clearly proved. If the law is hazy or the evidence is confusing, let the jury acquit. In a sense, every jury trial puts the system as well as the defendant on trial, and that is a good thing.
The idea of the jury is an attractive one but, as the discussions in class have revealed, to me at least, it is deeply problematic at a practical level. In theory, the verdict of the jury is seen as the product of equal interaction among peers drawn from a broad cross-section of the community exercising their independent judgment. But this idea is built on several fallacies - deliberations in the jury room can be driven by stronger personalities who can sway the opinions of meeker jurors, their composition is not necessarily representative of the make-up of the community, and (as we have seen from the examples in class) jurors are not free from prejudiced views. What is more, there appears to be very little in the way of safeguards to ensure that juries are meaningfully discharging the task that has been entrusted to them - this being the black-box problem. In particular, the ultimate safeguard, being the furnishing of reasons for arriving at a decision, is not something that they are required to do. That is something I find deeply troubling, because that is the only thing - accountability - that assures us that we are operating under the rule of law, and not the rule of men. But even if I were inclined to put aside these structural shortcomings that are embedded in the jury system, I think it suffices for me to prefer a judge-led trial simply because, in my view, a legally trained judge is better able to perform the role of a fact-finder than jurors who are simply not trained to sieve out irrelevant facts, prone to taking into account extraneous matters, and lack forensic skills. In short, a judge is better able to arrive at the truth of the better and, for that reason alone, I am inclined to the view that the jury system should be completely re-imagined.
I have vacillated pretty wildly on the spectrum throughout our discussion. I lean towards thinking that the jury system is overrated, and that bench trials or an inquisitorial system might be just as good or better. Which is not to say that I think judges are infallible--quite the contrary--just that I think they might be better, on the whole, than juries. And subject to review, of course. Hopefully a more muscular review of their findings of fact, if juries are abolished.
Don't let this distract you from the the fact that in 1966, Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in a single game while playing for the Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus Andrew Johnson High School, including the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against his old nemesis, Bubba "Spare Tire" Dixon.