Swiftness toward a judicial resolution is a KEY component of a fairness. While ensuring that procedures designed toward efficiency do not cross any independent lines of fairness on their own (arguably debatable in the arraignment question at hand), there is a strong interest of We the People in keeping things moving along. Too many people pre-adjucatorily (is that a word?) robbed of their independence while interminably waiting is BAD for the people. Additionally, We the People have a say in criminal arraignments viz-a-viz grand jury indictments; if the people have opted to indict, then (barring a defendant opting out of trial via a guilty plea), it seems the People's will should be respected and the matter should go to a Fair Trial; maintaining arraignment as a quick, nonargumentative pitstop on the way to such a trial gets us there.
The interests of 'we the people' run deeper than efficiency. Our concern is truth. There are enough potential judges out there, and more than enough jurors, to ensure that every criminal defendant has a thorough trial, and a trial that sheds light on the truth in all its complexity. The demand of one simple statement, "guilt or not guilty," obscures the pursuit of truth, and therefore runs contrary to our interests as a body. We should embrace the grey area that exists between the binary.
Not under men but under God and laws. There basically seems to be two ways to legitimize a judicial decision: either it most come from God (trial by combat, by ordeal) or it must come from the people. Up until at least the Enlightenment authoritarian rulers claimed to rule by the grace of God -- probably for the same reason. At least from this particular point of view it matters less if the decision is substantively good or bad, true or false etc. The important thing is that it is authoritative. A society needs to settle disputes with finality, as much or more as it needs substantive justice.
What's the best way to fix the harm done to the community? Perhaps by allowing the defendants to tell their story, as the prosecution has the opportunity to do, to find a collective way to move forward.
I do not think pleading guilty or not guilty makes sense because of the tool it gives prosecutors to levy heavier chargers in order to persuade a defendant to take a plea deal. If we the people is founded on innocent until proven guilty, the prosecution should levy its case and prove all elements and leave it up to the jury to decide how to come out without the defendant having to declare it first.
Loved the variety of the class! Re-enactment was great and engaging! Thanks to everyone who participated today. My takeaway from this class is how a jury protects against tyranny in that it acts as a constraint on the state
I think to an extent it can be beneficial to We The People to have an up-or-down answer. Of course it will always be necessary at some point to delve deep into the weeds of "well this happened and then that happened and when they say my client did that they're mistaken", but that's going to happen at some stage of the trial no matter what if it's not a kangaroo court. I think there is value for the People(TM) in their Nessonian construction in starting from a base of guilty or not guilty.
More Reading Exercises, and more reading from Tyler! A+. Guilty vs Not Guilty is as much an administribality question as anything else. Allowing the defendant to rebut each point would amount to holding the trial all over again. Same goes for the prosecution. That is not the point of the final process.
Right to jury trial is good for We The People because our collective sense of justice tells us that the State is not a perfect institution, nor is the administration of laws, and there should be a mechanism that can serve as a "relief valve" to protect people from being dealt with unfairly by the State in extreme cases.
I think that the jury's interest in the criminal trial is twofold: to partner with its elected government to incarcerate evildoers and to prevent overreaches by the humans occupying elected office. On the second, I think each jury member is or ought to be consciously aware that if the government could wantonly prosecute the defendant today, the government could do so to them or their neighbor the next. Jury trial, along with democratic election, is “we the people’s” check and balance on the three branches of government.
I like the different forms of learning (e.g., the play, the group research discussions, open answer format, lecture, visual aids). I think it helps keep the class engaging. One thought is sometimes I have problems connecting one line of thought to another (e.g., connecting "Does guilty/not guity help prosecution/defense" and "we the people" in the Constitution). I'm wondering if we could do a "summary" or "overview" at either the beginning or end of class to help me understand the relationships between the topics appropriately.
I thought the topic we talked about today was very interesting -- the community aspect to jury trials, how it is a mechanism that enables us to live together and settle disputes in a satisfying and just way
Would WE the people include the prosecution and defense? Aren't they equal members of the community? Or does WE the people focus on the jury, the audience, and other members of the community who are similarly invested in or responsible for the outcome of a trial?
we the people have an interest in the truth—what "actually" happened—that is often at odds with the rights afforded through trial by jury—the power to decide what "legally" happened. these two things are rarely congruent, though they are sometimes close enough to approximate a sense of justice. but often, the truth falls somewhere between guilty and not guilty, and so these interests are at odds. to choose a plea is to be in some way deceptive; to decide a verdict as a jury is to be in some way ignorant.
I thought today was really fun, and I especially enjoyed the trial transcript being read out loud. I would love to hear more on potential arguments supporting each position for whether having to plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment is a pro prosecution or pro defense rule (I got a bit confused by the potential combined option). I also would love to know what reading we should do for tomorrow.
We the people have an interest in both sides being able to explain themselves in order for the system overall to reach accurate and just results. So, it should be preferred that the defendant is able to briefly explain themselves further than simply pleading “guilty/not guilty” at the arraignment phase.
perhaps jury trial has a ritual-like element of healing--one deeply embedded in the America psyche. But jury trials also have a history of unfairness to oppressed and marginalized groups. maybe this gets at an even bigger point: when we say We the People, who counts in the We? do ALL people benefit from jury trials, or just those people with whom jury members share life experiences?
"We the people" are served by jury trials because they are part of what creates a constitutive body. Given that all national communities are in some sense imaginary, symbolic social acts take on a binding power that is in some sense the most "real" part of nationhood. Even though not everyone votes or participates in jury trials, these are the acts by which we create the imagined community that is America.
From the perspective of "We the People," framing the question as "guilty, or not guilty?" is good for the defendant and for the prosecution (in theory). The defendant benefits because the government must prove he has committed each element of a crime to be found guilty. It's also good for the prosecution because the government has a critical interest in the legitimacy of the legal system. Because it must prove to the jury (WTP) that the defendant has violated a law that the government has created beyond a reasonable doubt, WTP are likely to trust the outcome of the process and abide by other laws. The prosecution's interest in that legitimacy far exceeds its interest in prosecuting any one defendant.
aw my thing didn't send for some reason, but shorter version: if we're going to delve into the weeds of who did what and when at some point (which we certainly are unless it's a full on kangaroo court), I think We The People (in its Nessonian conception) are well served by a preliminary stage in the Fair Trial where it is established what the base from which we are starting is - guilty or not guilty