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Re: Jury (was Re: Two GR concepts for dicussion)

On Fri, Jun 01, 2007 at 11:33:02AM +0300, Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 01, 2007 at 05:12:57PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > Randomly selected juries avoid the "cabal" problem -- it's transparent
> > who gets involved, it's not limited to some people, it's not
> > the same people all the time, and it's a bit easier to deal with
> > (perceived/claimed/whatever) conflicts of interest.

> The big problem with juries is that the jurors are *always* newbies to
> judging. In real life, I was clueless about the first dozen times I sat as
> a lay judge in the district court.  Without having the opportunity to do
> it again and again and again, nobody can learn to do the thing properly.

The role of jurors in the US legal system is not to interpret the law
(jurors are commonly given explicit direction about the standard that must
be met for the defendant to be guilty of a particular charge), but to decide
whether they are convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant
has committed the acts he or she is charged with.

I did comment privately to AJ that I didn't think a jury system without an
appointed judge would work very well.

> Of course, we hope that this sort of dispute resolution is needed so rarely
> that anybody, even if appointed as a regular judge, would have a hard time
> learning the job :)

> (As an aside, the other thing I find really abhorrent about the US-style
> juries is that they are not allowed (nor required) to write up a
> reasoning.  If I have understood it correctly, there is a legal doctrine
> in the US that entitles the jury to rule contrary to law.  This is ...
> bizarre, but also not relevant to Debian.  Sorry about the rant:)

Jury nullification is a doctrine that juries have the right to acquit a
defendant in the interest of mercy, in spite of actually having committed
the acts he or she is accused of.  It's not permissible for a jury to
convict a defendant for a crime they don't really think the defendant
committed, but try ever proving *that* kind of judicial misconduct.  (And as
for jury nullification, try mentioning your belief in such a doctrine some
time while *in* a jury pool -- it's great fun to watch counsel scurry off to
chambers so they can discuss having you excused from the jury *selection*

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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