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Old 07-18-2011, 07:22 PM
 
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The frustration that some feel over the Casey Anthony verdict causes me to post a little about juries and jury deliberations in general. I accept the verdict in the Casey Anthony case although I think it was incorrect.

Many attorneys are not particularly fond of the jury system, but it is what we have and its what the Constitution says we have to have. Those criticizing the system can point out quite fairly that:

1. Jurors often are a cross section of their community and we than learn just how uneducated, ignorant, lazy, and downright stupid a community really is.

2. Jurors generally are eager to "get the job done" and resume their normal lives. If this results in a wrong or incomplete verdict, many are willing to accept this just to bring the process to an end.

3. Jurors receive very little compensation for serving on a jury and this leads to financial stress on those members who are self-employed, not getting the equivalent of sick leave time, or have a miserable boss.

4. Human dynamics are such that some people seem to be natural leaders and many of the others will simply "fall in line" with them.

5. The average person is probably racist, sexist, and disdainful of higher education whether he/she will admit it or not.

6. People will swear to a judge that they are neutral and unbiased and than will go back in the jury room and act on their worst prejudices.

7. Jurors are only partially honest when they respond to voir dire questions during the selection process.

Most of my experience in trying cases has been in civil cases. Criminal cases are more black and white and if you think the Anthony verdict was a travesty of justice, you should see the way jurors decide civil cases.

Its not the system that is to blame for these results. Its the juries. I guess we could repeal the jury system and replace it with a system like exists in Europe where judges decide cases. However, depending on your point of view that might be even worse.

Our jury system is the worst system there is, except for all the others.
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:42 PM
 
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I think that the problem is the system, not the jury trial...trials need to be cut down to a week, if you can't get all the important information in within a week, then forget it. Don't tell me that there is too much to do in a week...just cover the MOST important issues to make a decision. Too much time is wasted...

I agree, the whole thing is crazy, my friend was on a grand jury, for 18 months. She missed every Wednesday at work. We had to make up her work, and we were quite grumpy about the whole thing. She said that people on the jury were going crazy, they were sales people, literally losing money doing jury duty.

Orignially, Thomas Jefferson, believed that only people chosen to congress and senate should choose the president, he also believed that only judges should make decisions in trials...
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:10 PM
 
Location: Dublin, CA
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Personally, I like the Scottish System. Guilty, not guilty, not proven. The third option basically states the guy/girl probably did it, however, the states case was weak and it couldn't be proven. Such a verdict would have fit perfect for Casey Anthony.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:52 AM
 
12,275 posts, read 18,401,528 times
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I don't think it is the jury system in general, but the sequestered jury system in particular.
With a sequestered jury, all the disadvantages you listed are magnified. Starting with the available jurists that are willing to sit in a courtroom and locked in a hotel for 3 months (all others the judge will excuse) - so you are stuck with the the old retired lady that has spent the last 10 years doing nothing but watching soap operas, the guy without a job that lives in his mom's basement, and the brainless lady that works at the driver's license office.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Abilene, Texas
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I've served on two criminal trial juries. One involved a felony charge and the other a misdemeanor charge. The felony trial jury I served on was a trainwreck! There were two jurors on that jury that were incredibly ignorant and had apparently already made up their mind as to what verdict they would vote for and totally ignored the evidence. We ended up in a hung jury on that one. The evidence against the defendant was overwhelming and I truly believe we would have had a verdict if those two ignorant fools hadn't been on that jury. The other jury I served on with the misdemeanor charges was the opposite experience. Every juror was rational and intelligent and I believe we came up with a good verdict in that case. My view of the American jury system was definitely altered after I served on those two juries.

The well known attorney Alan Dershowitz said something on CNN a few nights ago that I thought was very interesting. If I remember correctly I think he said that in France they have "professional jurors" instead of a jury of random people selected from the community. Those "professional jurors" apparently have some formal legal training and they are also selected by other criteria/mock trials, etc., to make sure they are able to effectively and intelligently evaluate evidence presented at trial. It makes me wonder if a similar jury system in this country might be able to render more just verdicts.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:04 PM
 
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I have been thinking about this. I wish I could think of a modification or alternative to our jury system. I am only half kidding when I say I wish the judge could have "veto" power when the jury comes to a ridiculous verdict. And yes, I realize that's counter to the point of having a jury, but something is wrong when a murderer (or plug in the name of offense) walks free.

In the Anthony case, I believe the jurors hung their hats on "reasonable doubt" and failed to deliberate as intended by the design of the system. Maybe this concept needs to be clearer, but on the other hand, the jurors have to have the guts to make a judgment and not just expect an explicit conclusion at the end of the trial, like in a movie (e.g., "Joe did it and here's how").

Regardless, I wish Judge Perry would have said "veto" to their verdict. A system is ineffective when everyone knows (ok the vast majority) that someone killed their daughter and she gets away with it.
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:06 PM
 
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I have served on criminal and civil juries. In addition I served on a Federal Jury.

I have met all types of jurors. Those that needed to get back to work the boss was raising heck. The corn was coming in and the lady needed to be at home to put up the corn ... never forgot that one, I did learn 'corn don't wait for any one.' Others were easily swayed one way or the other. Not every jury I served on was like that but it did amaze me and make me question our jury selection system.

I learned from serving on jury duty I hoped to never get into any trouble that would require me to face a jury of my peers.
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Ohio
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I dont know about the rest of you but I would actualy like to serve on a jury. I see it as an honor to play an important role in our system. Im just waiting for them to call me but it hansnt happened yet. I even inquired about VOLUNTEERING for jury duty to take the place of somone who didnt want to be there but was told it didnt work that way.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Dublin, CA
3,813 posts, read 3,656,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didee View Post
I have been thinking about this. I wish I could think of a modification or alternative to our jury system. I am only half kidding when I say I wish the judge could have "veto" power when the jury comes to a ridiculous verdict. And yes, I realize that's counter to the point of having a jury, but something is wrong when a murderer (or plug in the name of offense) walks free.

In the Anthony case, I believe the jurors hung their hats on "reasonable doubt" and failed to deliberate as intended by the design of the system. Maybe this concept needs to be clearer, but on the other hand, the jurors have to have the guts to make a judgment and not just expect an explicit conclusion at the end of the trial, like in a movie (e.g., "Joe did it and here's how").

Regardless, I wish Judge Perry would have said "veto" to their verdict. A system is ineffective when everyone knows (ok the vast majority) that someone killed their daughter and she gets away with it.
I completely disagree with you. The system worked, BECAUSE everyone knew she was guilty. You cannot allow personal emotions to get involved in the criminal justice system. Especially at the jury level. You have to try the facts presented; not what you "feel," or "think."

The system is not designed that way and, thank god it is not. There would be alot more innocent people locked up.
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Old 07-21-2011, 05:50 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 30,728,311 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didee View Post
I have been thinking about this. I wish I could think of a modification or alternative to our jury system. I am only half kidding when I say I wish the judge could have "veto" power when the jury comes to a ridiculous verdict. And yes, I realize that's counter to the point of having a jury, but something is wrong when a murderer (or plug in the name of offense) walks free.

In the Anthony case, I believe the jurors hung their hats on "reasonable doubt" and failed to deliberate as intended by the design of the system. Maybe this concept needs to be clearer, but on the other hand, the jurors have to have the guts to make a judgment and not just expect an explicit conclusion at the end of the trial, like in a movie (e.g., "Joe did it and here's how").

Regardless, I wish Judge Perry would have said "veto" to their verdict. A system is ineffective when everyone knows (ok the vast majority) that someone killed their daughter and she gets away with it.
I've been on one jury where reasonable doubt came into play. Both the prosecution and the defense had plausible arugments but neither was a home run. We ended up looking at the defendants behavior after the fact and concluded that his behavior was consistent with someone who had not committed a crime so we acquitted him because we believed he was innocent based on his own actions and responses coupled with his version of what happened. If you do the same in this case, you come to a different conclusion. Did Casey Anthony act like a mother whose daughter just drowned? Why did she lie about her daughter being missing if she knew she'd drowned? Her actions, after the fact, and lies fly in the face of an accidental drowning. They smack of involvement in the child's death. So, applying the samd strategy here that we applied there, the same jury would have convicted her of manslaughter.

Reasonable doubt requires you to believe that the defense being supplied is actually reasonable. It doesn't mean you have all the answers and proof beyond doubt. I think this jury went for proof beyond all doubt not beyond reasonable doubt. In the case of the trial I was on, the defense seemed weak until you coupled it with the defendants actions after the crime was committed. His actions and statements after the fact fit with his story. THAT is what created reasonsble doubt. The operative word being REASONABLE. I don't see REASONABLE doubt here. Just unsubstantiated speculation on what MIGHT have happened (let's face it, space aliens could have really committed the crime and we just don't know it yet...anything is possible...the question is what is REASONABLY possible.). You kind of need to believe it might have actually happened that way to have reasonable doubt but then what do you do with her actions after the fact? The lies, the partying and the lack of grief???? IMO these create reasonable doubt that the drowning story is true. The drowning story (and I believe it's just a story based on actions of CA and GA after the fact) is grasping at straws in an attempt to create doubt that worked with this jury.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 07-21-2011 at 06:15 AM..
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