The Juror's Protest
This is an argument for prospective juror's who want to state a position that should render them unsuitable for Jury Duty.
2) What it is about:
I write this as a form of protest in the hopes that it will spur some kind of reform. As it is now many people are quite reluctant to participate in the juror system. I believe it is because we are not treated with respect, we are not given reasonable compensation, nor are we allowed to plan or compromise with the demands for time that are placed upon us. I believe that protest is a good answer to this condition. Changes are long overdue and until things are different few will want to participate in a part of our justice system that is very important. We must have jurors treated with some respect in the legal system which seems overwhelmingly concerned with Judges, Lawyers, Defendants, and Plaintiffs.
Everyone should share Jury Duty, but this is not the case. It can be avoided. Besides that, the current system is unfair. The juror is often under stress being as concerned with their own affairs as much as those of the court's. Jury duty falls upon those unable to avoid it. A consequence of that is that in a jury trial one is not judged by true cross section of one's community. Last, the juror's are the last ones considered in this system and the ones upon whom it depends and really around whom it revolves.
Now we know that the decision of guilt or innocence lay with the Jury and they are charged to deliberate on all relevant factors brought before it in the case and, weighing these, come to a decision. But if the system is flawed so that the ideal, the right, of trial by one's peers is generally abridged the system is dysfunctional. Worse, it abuses the rights of those sworn to uphold them. Thus it is that the considerations of the Jurors for themselves and their own good becomes inextricably mixed with those of the accused. This is where we factor in the selectivity of the justice system which sees fit to disproportionately select minority individuals for processing.
So, because the juror selection is an unfairly distributed obligation, it is in the juror's interest to dispose of any case quickly. I suggest here a more general form of judgment which may be employed to render their verdict. This system also allows the jury to redress their general concerns for community safety and justice through how they pass judgment in a particular case. I hereby assert that a juror's ultimate decision for guilt or innocence be based on of the points outlined briefly below.
The position: You state to the Judge or Lawyers present that you believe that the guilt or innocence of a suspect is not the only important factor in rendering a decision, that one must consider the effect of that decision's repercussions. You continue saying that although you respect the tradition, you feel the matter the guilt or innocence of the person being held for trial is not as important as what a juror must do as a responsible citizen. Therefore, if you a juror, feel that an accused, and/or the community at large would be better off if he or she were to receive the consequences of a guilty verdict then, you are morally bound to declare the suspect guilty. This perspective would be particularly pressing when dealing with a repeat and violent offender. On the other hand if a person being held for trial would in no way be helped in being found guilty, even if they were, in fact, guilty, then likewise a just person would be morally bound to find the person not guilty, again regardless of the evidence.
If the punishment not only doesn't fit, but would harm the person, what function would such an action serve, and, indeed, what function would a juror be performing if they were to participate in making matters worse? Why participate in a process that is flawed, biased and, harmful to one's self? Only because you have to, and that is unjust.
Conclude with saying that justice is in the hands of the jurors, they decide guilt or innocence, and they are charged with taking into account all the facts and rendering a fair judgment. Viewed from this perspective and being aware of these deeply held beliefs you are obliged to apprise the court of your opinions because it may severely effect the deliberations of any jury that you are a part of. End of argument.
There is another issue or concern here and that this the idea or concept of Jury Nullification. You can also admit to the court that you feel that if an accused is being tried for the violation of a law, regulation, or statute which you feel is, in itself, unjust, questionable, or in some other way lacks legitimacy, that you believe that it is the jury's right and duty to review that law and hold for its repeal, or, at the very least, refuse to convict the defendant or propose the dismissal of the charges facing the defendant.
I am publishing this proposition on the web to see if some one is willing to try it to see what kind of results it yields. I believe there is a constitutional issue at the heart of this and it would be good to clear this issue up. I have seen others use this argument successfully. I am curious to know the legal standing of this.
I must add that I am not a lawyer. There but for the grace of God go I. As my sainted mother used to say, "Thank god for small wonders." Therefore I cannot advise anyone concerning the consequences that the actions I outlined above. Most certain the laws of the states and localities differ as would the sentiment of any judge faced with these arguments. Therefore I cannot advise any to choose a route of unknown consequences, so be advised, be cautious and may the force be with you.
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