Friday, January 26, 2007

Why History is important to a potential Juror

One of the many reasons History is important is for Juror's to be aware of how the Jury trial came to be. Many misinformed individuals actually believe it was something that was dreamed up by the Founding Fathers of this nation. For this the Founding Fathers can take no credit, because the idea comes from long ago, as far back as ancient Athens of Aristotle.

England formalized the Jury system which is the foundation of the system we use today. The Jury wasn't created to find the defendant Guilty as charged, but instead to find the truth, and rule upon that truth, and most importantly take the power of conviction from the hands of the King of England.

The King, or the Crown, (Government) would charge the defendant, try the defendant, and imprison the defendant, if convicted, but the Crown could not convict the Defendant.

The Jury had to convict the defendant. The jury was the only body which could legally find the accused guilty. However, that was not the only job the Jury assumed as they considered the matters which were before them. The first question considered was "Is this an unjust law?" Once that question was answered, then they would ask themselves "Was this law applied unjustly?" The jury had the right to find the defendant not guilty because the law was unjust, or unjustly applied. I won't pretend I have any clue as to how often that may have been done. Frankly, it was probably not done very often.

The reason I point out that History is important, is because I think many Juries today would find the defendant not guilty if they understood that they hold the power, not the Judge. They can declare that a law is unjust, or unjustly applied.

I mention this subject because I have just read an article where an honor student, star athlete (which is of the least importance) and future college student is serving 10 years in prison for consensual sex.

I would like to believe that the jury, had they known the history of the Jury trial, and the power that they alone hold, the power to convict or not, would have declared this kid not guilty, as the law is obviously unjust. It is at the very least, unjustly applied in this case.

I would suggest you read the article, and form your own opinion. However we all have heard asinine stories where the obviously justified defendant was found guilty despite the later expressed wished of the jurors. "Gee we wish we could have found him not guilty". Ladies and Gentlemen, no one but you is able to find him Guilty, or not guilty, no matter what instructions the Judge gives you. You are free to choose as you feel right in doing. You are voting your conscience, and no one can command you to find one way or the other.

I wish that prospective Jurors were forced to watch a short documentary on how the Jury trials came to be, and what power the Jury actually has over the outcome of the trial.

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