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Do we need to refrom the jury selection process?

Geenie Nabottle 2011/07/07 19:15:53
Yes
No
Not sure.... the jury is still out
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I am confident in the belief that our American judicial system is one of the best in the world. When I say “American judicial system” I am referring to the overall process of having a trial with legal representation for both sides and allowing a jury of one’s peers to decide guilt or innocence of the charges levied.



What I believe we need reform on is the selection process. Currently in our courts when a defendant is charged and their day in court is set, lawyers move into a mode of psychological & sociological evaluation not of the defendant but of potential jurors. The accurate term is Scientific Jury Selection (SJS).



During this phase experts in law and psychology are often deployed to determine which potential jurors will be most favorable to either the defense or prosecution. Boutique law firms have sprung up since the 70’s, when this practice first began that specialize in jury selection.



I believe that SJS taints the 12 man jury system that up to this point has worked fairly well for our country, despite recent cases where public sentiment has run contrary to jurors decisions.



Perhaps we need to introduce some reforms to the jury selection process in order to protect our judicial system. Here are a couple of reforms we may need and why.



1. Juror Competency: We all would like to think that the best and brightest among our peers would be in the jury box if we ever had cause to be judged by our peers in court. This unfortunately is not always the case. We ensure that defendants are competent to stand trial; why do we not ensure that jurors are competent enough to fully weigh the details of a case and truly make an informed judgment about the defendants actions?



2. Elimination of Peremptory Challenges: This process more often than not results in undermining the balanced representation on a jury which could occur if random selection was used. Of course there would still be a need for a challenge process which could be used in a limited capacity to eliminate potential jurors that have an obvious bias that could infringe upon the rights of the defendant to a fair trial. An example would be not having a rape victim be on a jury of a person charged with rape. These however should be far a few in between and have specific defined parameters.



Our current system in most states allow for unlimited peremptory challenges for no apparent reason other than ‘experts’ have determined that they will most likely not come back with a favorable decision for their client.



3. Third Party Jury Selection: Neither the prosecution nor the defense should have a say so in who is selected to be on a jury in a case they will argue. A third party entity charged with jury selection and ensuring that there is no obvious bias would be a workable solution. They could also potentially be responsible for ensuring that the jurors are competent to serve on the jury they are selected for. A third party jury selection process brings back the much needed neutrality our judicial system has been lacking.



What do you think……. Do we need Jury Reform?

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Top Opinion

  • Crewshal 2011/07/07 20:01:42 (edited)
    Yes
    Crewshal
    +3
    The system needs to be tweaked.What i see is that in America, it is a more serious crime if you try and evade taxes than murdering someone.

    If you try to cheat the Government out of a few dollars,you can bet your life 100% that you will be found guilty and do some serious time in prison for tax fraud,but you can murder someone and be found innocent and walk free.Something is wrong with that picture when evading taxes is considered,and treated a more serious crime than murder.

    this is sick, and MUST be changed.

    We had OJ Simpson,Robert Blake,and Now Casey Anthony,this is not good.there was no justice for this child.

    anyone claiming we have the best justice in the world,is missing a few screws,and their elevators don't go all the way to the top

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  • Dolly 2011/12/21 15:05:28
    Yes
    Dolly
    I think they need to stop sending out jury selections to people who in the past have told them why they can't be on any jury, such as hardship, too disabled to help them or other valid reasons.
  • princess_kelly 2011/07/09 20:54:14
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    princess_kelly
    I dont know enough about the american Judical system to go either way
  • chief 00 2011/07/08 12:50:16
    Yes
    chief 00
    What we need are professional jurors. Professional people that understand evidence, finger prints, DNA and every other aspect of a court case. Average Joe's know nothing about the law and most of the time vote on emotion.
  • USAF Vet 2011/07/08 07:45:14
    No
    USAF Vet
    Our jury system is unsurpassed from any other in the world, like it or not. It's the responsibility of the State, not the jury, to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the guilt of the defendant; the jury is there to unanimously concur or disprove.
  • American☆Atheist 2011/07/08 04:04:48
    Yes
    American☆Atheist
    i think mexios and italy's is better with 3 judges or a jury with some judges
  • Mordecai Jones 2011/07/08 01:59:03
    No
    Mordecai Jones
    +1
    The prosecution and the defense both have the right to strike for cause. They also have the same right to strike on a peremptory basis.
  • Murph 65 2011/07/08 00:01:40
    No
    Murph 65
    +2
    No, it works just fine. Sometimes not always happy with the outcome, but it does its job.
  • Piper 2011/07/07 23:59:47
    Yes
    Piper
    +1
    I especially agree with "point" number 3, although they all have merit. I'm not sure that in most trials, researching the competency of a juror is a realistic goal though. Who would decide that, and on what basis? (I see now that you already said what I was going to; including that in the unbiased third party choosing jurors.) Finding that trusted third party with no "biases"? THAT would the biggest challenge.
  • goblue1968 2011/07/07 23:23:04
    Yes
    goblue1968
    +1
    You presented some interesting proposals for jury selection reform. I think the current system is pretty good, but some tweaks would be helpful.

    I was called for jury duty and when I reported to the court desk to announce my arrival for the jury pool, I was given a form to answer a few questions. One of the questions was about what I did for a living, and when I answered that I was an engineer, the court clerk excused me from serving, thanked me for my appearance, and told me I could leave, they didn't need me for the jury pool.
  • Jeremy 2011/07/07 23:22:53
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    Jeremy
    +2
    If this is a question simply based on the verdict of the Anthony trial, it is worth noting (once again) that the jury in that case worked the way it was supposed to. you absolutely CANNOT convict someone of a crime based on circumstantial evidence, stupidity after the fact, and knee-jerk emotional responses. The prosecution had nothing to support their case and the jury knew that.

    If it's a question of jury reform in general, i may agree, depending on how the process is done.
  • Geenie ... Jeremy 2011/07/07 23:56:03
    Geenie Nabottle
    Many people in this country are not just convicted but wrongly convicted just on circumstantial evidence. Project Innocence would not have a need to exist if this were not the case. I guess my opinion that was conveyed was somewhat based on the Anthony case but more so on the thousands of cases where people have been convicted or even sentenced death based on the decisions by the jury if their peers and later found to be innocent or exonerated on the charges.
  • Jeremy Geenie ... 2011/07/08 00:12:44
    Jeremy
    +2
    ok, ok...yea i think i would agree with you on that. i guess my answer came from really seeing that the only time people have a problem with a jury are in cases like this where mr. & mrs. joe smith want a conviction, but don't get because all there is circumstantial evidence and they just don't seem to understand that's not enough to convict. rarely do you ever hear about the wrongly convicted in such a mass media frenzy such as this case was, but god forbid a possibly innocent person go free because of lack of evidence and people are deprived of their blood lust.
  • luvguins 2011/07/07 23:12:12
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    luvguins
    +1
    I do agree with point three. Both the prosecution and defense pay big bucks for these jury selection types to try and stack a jury in their favor. They should try to eliminate that, though it often backfires on one or the other.

    A couple of Anthony jurors said they might have felt differently if the prosecution hadn't made this a 1st. degree case, and they might have considered a manslaughter verdict.
  • Callaway 2011/07/07 23:04:00
    No
    Callaway
    +1
    No perhaps we need to revamp the prosecutorial system that constantly allows to many career criminals walk thorough easy quickie plea deals and cases tried entirely too soon bending to public and media pressure before cases are iron clad and winnable. Just as in the OJ case one or two cases are not reason the scrap the system just expect more from the people within it. I know a few of these folks and nearly all of them are looking for the next career ladder rung all the while worrying about their own record of wins and losses.
  • Geenie ... Callaway 2011/07/07 23:13:44
    Geenie Nabottle
    I was not suggesting scraping the process but I do think we need to take a look at how we manipulate the system.
  • Tau_Seti 2011/07/07 22:33:48
  • ILuvMonkeys 2011/07/07 22:18:05
  • CTF 2011/07/07 21:51:48
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    CTF
    While I do think that the selection process should focus more on those who want to be there, sometimes it's important to question why they want to be there.... If it's nothing more than to perform their civic duty, then fine, I'm on board with that. But you have to realize that some may want to be there for the sole purpose of finding an accused child murderer "guilty". These people do not belong on a jury.

    That being said, I think that those who see the jurors as the problem, clearly have no understanding as to how the system really works. Particularly those who criticize the jurors in the Anthony case. Don't get me wrong, my hunch tells me that she did it too... But I also recognize, and respect the fact that the jurors didn't have the access to the media to help sway their opinions. The technical details are VERY important in cases like this. My opinion, however, is that the prosecution aimed way too high given the amount of evidence they had. (or didn't have) First degree murder while seeking the death penalty requires the highest standard our judical system has. Guilty beyond ALL reasonable doubt. And the fact that there was never a clear cause of death.... That IS reasonable doubt.
  • Geenie ... CTF 2011/07/07 22:44:11
    Geenie Nabottle
    I don't think the jurors motives are particulary relevant except in cases of explicit direct conflict such as a rape victim on the jury of an accused rapists, victim of theft on the jury of someone accused of theft etc. We don't select the judge that will hear a case in order influence the outcome. Why do we invest so heavily in selecting the jury in order to influence the outcome?

    How far do we go down the rabbit hole when it come to trying to determine 'juror motives'?

    "Heard About Facebook Being Used to Select Jurors? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet"
    http://singularityhub.com/201...
  • CTF Geenie ... 2011/07/07 23:41:17
    CTF
    But you never know what a potential juror's motive may be... Yes, I understand rape victims on the jury of a rape case, as well as your other examples. And while there may be many instances in which people can put their particular "issues" aside & listen only to the facts of the case, there's always going to be someone with a connection, or an opinion of the alleged crime. To be a juror, you have to be able to step outside of your own moral compass for the sake of the trial... And that's exactly what the jurors in the Anthony case did.

    It doesn't take a law degree to understand that the jurors had no choice, but to make the decision that they did. And there might be a few that believe that she really did do it... They might ALL even believe she did. But jurors CANNOT issue a verdict on what they believe outside of what the facts actually prove.

    As tough as it may be for some to understand... The Casey Anthony trial did not demonstrate failures in the judicial process.. But rather, it illustrated that it does work.
  • Geenie ... CTF 2011/07/08 00:12:20
    Geenie Nabottle
    If we were to eliminate the Anthony case from our discussion and just considered any one of the hundreds of cases across the country where people have been exonerated after a jury of their peers sentenced them to jail time or even death based on circumstantial evidence and way less than was presented in the Anthony case, would you still hold the same opinion about the jury selection process?
  • CTF Geenie ... 2011/07/08 18:45:58
    CTF
    To be honest, it would be irresponsible for me to answer that without the details of such cases. Trails are like snowflakes... No two will ever be exactly alike. Sometimes it IS a problem with a jury, or even one specific juror, other times it's the prosecution's inability to present a rock solid case. Or it could be the defense that does just enough to provide reasonable doubt.

    IF there were to be a case in which a jury senteces someone to death with even less "hard" evidence than in the Anthony trial.. Then I'd have to say that yes, the jury did screw up. Cases involving the death penalty require the highest standards of proof there are. Such as DNA evidence, a murder weapon in the posession of the defendant, witnesses, etc.
  • Geenie ... CTF 2011/07/11 05:13:24
    Geenie Nabottle
    Project innocence exist for all of the reasons you described and more that have happened.

    If you go to wikipedia and search "exonrated death row inmates". You will find a list of names from the US from each decade of people that have been released from death row after being convicted by juries of their peers. Their names and details of their cases can be found as well.

    Because we have all of these instances where people who were plucked from the street and massaged into a 12 man pool selected by 'experts' who clearly made the wrong decisions, I feel that reforms are warranted.
  • CTF Geenie ... 2011/07/11 19:39:46
    CTF
    I've done the search... And while there isn't a lot of information on most of the cases, what a few of them have in common is false testimony.

    How is the jury at fault, if a witness lies on the stand?
  • VICTORIA 2011/07/07 21:48:35
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    VICTORIA
    +1
    I don;t think our judicial system is among the best in the world at all.
    But maybe picking actual peers- might be a good idea.
  • realityjunkie 2011/07/07 21:09:11
    Yes
    realityjunkie
    +1
    I like these ideas. I also feel we need to find jurors who want to be there. I know in my experience with jury duty many people find any excuse in the book to get out of it. Is it possible these same people just want to make a quick verdict just to go home? Yes. I was an alternate on one case where someone was convicted to life in a matter of minutes. He was guilty but the jurors did not discuss the case at all. One woman told me she just wants to get this over with. I question if they did this with Casey Anderson.

    I think jury duty would work better if we could volunteer for it. Lots of people love being a juror. My mom and in-laws do. Then we would have people who want to be there rather than people who want to go home.
  • 2468 2011/07/07 20:04:24
    Yes
    2468
    +1
    I think that by putting too much technology to the jurors in background checks and all the other things now possible that we don't get better results.

    If you have more money you can however buy better results.

    This means that the rich can play a better game than the poor and this to me is an unfair advantage.

    OJ paid in the 6 million range to get acquired...and there were issues with the case in the chain of evidence. I would not like to think that money is a replacement for guilt or innocence.

    The current methods seem to devalue the truth and work the players (jurors and judges).
  • Crewshal 2011/07/07 20:01:42 (edited)
    Yes
    Crewshal
    +3
    The system needs to be tweaked.What i see is that in America, it is a more serious crime if you try and evade taxes than murdering someone.

    If you try to cheat the Government out of a few dollars,you can bet your life 100% that you will be found guilty and do some serious time in prison for tax fraud,but you can murder someone and be found innocent and walk free.Something is wrong with that picture when evading taxes is considered,and treated a more serious crime than murder.

    this is sick, and MUST be changed.

    We had OJ Simpson,Robert Blake,and Now Casey Anthony,this is not good.there was no justice for this child.

    anyone claiming we have the best justice in the world,is missing a few screws,and their elevators don't go all the way to the top
  • This is W³ 2011/07/07 19:58:10
    Yes
    This is W³
    +3
    There is no rhyme or reason as to how attorneys pick and choose the jurors for a trial.

    Recently, I reported for jury duty in February for county court. Before the selection process, every juror must state his/her name, who is his/her employer, how long the juror has been working with that employer, what part of the city he/she lives in, and the juror's marital status. The attorneys for both the prosecution and defense take notes about each juror who announces himself/herself. Then when the selection process gets underway, both legal teams are given seven (7) strikes by the judge to use at their discretion to excuse a juror if they believe he/she would not serve their interest to their advantage. I was seated for a criminal trial that involved the sexual assault of a 9-year old girl, but the trial was postponed indefinitely because the prosecutor broke her foot in a hiking trip and I, along with the other jurors, were excused from the impending trial.

    I was called for jury duty again last month for Magistrate Court, which deals with petty stuff...the kind that you see in your Judge Judy-type shows. They have the same process. There was a civil trial involving a little old lady who was suing her dentist for an apparent botched dental procedure. The lady's attorney did ...
    There is no rhyme or reason as to how attorneys pick and choose the jurors for a trial.

    Recently, I reported for jury duty in February for county court. Before the selection process, every juror must state his/her name, who is his/her employer, how long the juror has been working with that employer, what part of the city he/she lives in, and the juror's marital status. The attorneys for both the prosecution and defense take notes about each juror who announces himself/herself. Then when the selection process gets underway, both legal teams are given seven (7) strikes by the judge to use at their discretion to excuse a juror if they believe he/she would not serve their interest to their advantage. I was seated for a criminal trial that involved the sexual assault of a 9-year old girl, but the trial was postponed indefinitely because the prosecutor broke her foot in a hiking trip and I, along with the other jurors, were excused from the impending trial.

    I was called for jury duty again last month for Magistrate Court, which deals with petty stuff...the kind that you see in your Judge Judy-type shows. They have the same process. There was a civil trial involving a little old lady who was suing her dentist for an apparent botched dental procedure. The lady's attorney did not wish to seat me in the jury box and I was excused from that trial and I wasn't seated for the rest of the day (my duty was done). Again, no rhyme...no reason. These lawyers have some sort of formula that they use for picking jurors and nobody knows how they come up with their decisions to accept or excuse a juror.
    (more)
  • 2468 This is W³ 2011/07/07 21:20:01
    2468
    They are reading you and looking for support or resistance to their side of the argument.
    Will you be more likely to be lenient or strict? More likely to convict or acquit?
    If you had an incidence of sexual assault in your past and the 9 year old girl was allegedly assaulted then you may want to get your revenge. The questions you see as not pertinent could be to gauge your responses so that when they ask the real key question they have a baseline to read from.
  • This is W³ 2468 2011/07/07 22:19:06
    This is W³
    +1
    True. The judge actually asked more pertinent questions collectively to the jury pool regarding the sexual assault case, such as "Can we be impartial in our decision?" "Is there a history of sexual abuse in your family?" "Do you know about this case?" etc. etc.. The ones I mentioned before were just general ones that the judge wanted each juror to ask individually before he asked the pertinent ones.
  • Wilde~MoonChild ™ 2011/07/07 19:57:03
    Not sure.... the jury is still out
    Wilde~MoonChild ™
    +3
    I have to disagree with one part.. the jury selection has never worked well for this country.. Its only worked for particular groups of people.. I seen several cases were I question the selections of 'one's peers' .
  • Pegasis 2011/07/07 19:52:22
    Yes
    Pegasis
    +3
    I agree. There are trials where potential jurors are required to fill outforms up to twenty or more pages lone, trials where they have surrepticious backgroud checks performed on them. That should also be dispensed with.
  • FeedFwd ~POTL 2011/07/07 19:36:05
    Yes
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +3
    I pretty much agree with your thesis. I would add that there is also the affect of most qualified people avoiding jury duty. How many times have you heard that only an idiot would get selected because it is so easy to get excused. If that doesn't give one pause, I don't know what would.
  • Geenie ... FeedFwd... 2011/07/07 20:04:32
    Geenie Nabottle
    +2
    This is very true!

    Jury duty is a civic duty for the citizens of this country that has morphed into a chore no one wants.
  • Eddie_DOMA_is_dead 2011/07/07 19:28:12
  • Geenie ... Eddie_D... 2011/07/07 19:32:21
    Geenie Nabottle
    +3
    So our judicial system should be based not on fact or evidence but on who can provide the most simplistic and entertaining case?
  • Eddie_D... Geenie ... 2011/07/07 22:18:06
  • Geenie ... Eddie_D... 2011/07/07 23:25:15 (edited)
    Geenie Nabottle
    I'll let you guess what country i'm from. Yes I have sat in on court hearings. Yes I have served on a jury before. So thanks for the suggestion but it is a little late.

    I don't think jurors are suppose to be there to be entertained.

    So because I can digest facts and i'm an opinionated person I should always be excluded from being cosidered as someone's peer on a jury???

    "Heard About Facebook Being Used to Select Jurors? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet"
    http://singularityhub.com/201...
  • Eddie_D... Geenie ... 2011/07/08 03:51:56

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