The following paper is focused on the issues concerning the fair trial, the establishment of a professional jury, and the personal qualities of the jurors. The paper provides concise solutions to the problems in question and supports the author’s viewpoint with relevant examples from existing literature. A list of references is included.
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The Constitution specifies that a criminal trial’s jury is impartial, but contrary to popular belief does not specify that it be comprised of the defendant’s “peers.” During jury selection, the attorneys use peremptory challenges to dismiss potential jurors that seem to be unsympathetic to their case. Should there be any restrictions on the use of these challenges? Explain your reasoning.
The role of peremptory challenges is to assure the jurors do not have any biases that might affect their position to any extent. At the same time, the very selection and the contingent of the jury is the embodiment of the democratic ideal (Hartje, 2005). The practical implication of it is the maximum diversity that the jury should constitute. Consequently, there should be some restrictions on the peremptory challenges – and there are: for instance, a member of the jury cannot be excluded upon the peremptory challenge based on their race (Hartje, 2005).
Such restriction presumes that an African American juror will not necessarily sympathize with an African American defendant simply because they are of the same race. Similarly, female, senior, or LGBTQ+ jurors are not bound to make biased decisions on account of the defendant being a woman, an elderly person, or LGBTQ+. Consequently, the exclusion of jury members on the sole basis of their gender, race, and sexual orientation should be restricted.
Some legal scholars argue for the establishment of professional jurors. These jurors would be employed by the court and be trained to understand the law. Hearing cases would be their full-time job. What are the pros and cons of such a system? Would you be in favor or would you oppose it?
The role of jurors in the eyes of the public is to represent the voice of people (Maguire & Okada, 2014). On the other hand, the jury is constituted mainly by laypeople. It means they can be explained how to apply the law but lack experience and professional training that lawyers receive (Haugley, 2016). Thus, the main advantage of the establishment of professional jurors will be that they will master the law and the applications it. Consequently, they will be capable of delivering more competent verdicts than lay jurors.
From the other perspective, the establishment of a professional jury would mean that the average citizens would not be able to take part in the trials. Democracy is something the Founders proclaimed, and one of the ways of conforming to their visions is to let every person influence the legal system.
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I do not believe the establishment of a professional jury would lead to tyranny. I believe, however, that such a jury would deprive laypeople of their right to be engaged in the administration of justice.
You are facing a jury trial because the corporation you work for has accused you of embezzlement. If found guilty, you could serve up to 10 years in prison. What specific characteristics would you want your jury members to possess? Why? Explain how jury members with these characteristics may influence the outcome of the case. Provide rationale and examples to support your opinion.
A nurse juror can make a difference when they distinguish the accuser’s acne-spots from scars as a result of repeated beatings; a boxer can help the jury establish the true cause of bodily damage (Mushlin, 2006). It can be argued whether such jurors should be at all admitted to trials. However, the assumption that the jurors should leave their personal experience behind when discussing a verdict would be close to naiveté.
I am not entirely sure if I would like the jurors to be of the same socio-economic status as myself; nor should the jury members have any other reasons to make biased decisions. However, assuming I am not guilty of embezzlement I have been accused of, I would prefer the jurors to have at least some experience in business and finance. If anything, their expertise would probably ensure the trial is fair; moreover, in the best of scenarios, as the examples show, they could spot the facts overlooked by the prosecutors and speak to my advantage.
Hartje, R. (2005). A Jury of Your Peers? How Jury Consulting May Actually Help Trial Lawyers Resolve Constitutional Limitations Imposed on the Selection of Juries. California Western Law Review, 41(2), 479-506.
Haugley, N. (2016). How Can Lay Juries Cope with Serious Fraud Cases, Like That of Anglo Irish Bank? Web.
Maguire, M. & Okada, D. W. (2014). Critical Issues in Crime and Justice: Thought, Policy, and Practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks CA: SAGE Publications.
Mushlin, M. B. (2006). Bound and Gagged: The Peculiar Predicament of Professional Jurors. Yale Law & Policy Review, 25(2), 239-287.