OK. Before I wade into this discussion, I would like to offer a disclaimer. I'm not sure that we ought to talk about extra-literary things here. Especially if they have political implications. This is a wonderful group, and I consider us good friends. I would hate for their to be hurt feelings or resentments. Full disclaimer: I am extremely left-wing in my political views. Far to the left of our supposedly super-liberal but really just left-of-center president.
I really can't comment on any similarities between Casey Anthony and the Bad Girl. I did not follow the trial, and I know very little of the case. All I know is what my friends and patients have told me.
Now, to the bigger questions:
: I am not sure if this jury system is the best system
: we can come up with.
: Judges are political, they can be bought or threatened
: (as is the case in Turkey right now), so i would not
: want the final decision to rest between the two lips
: of one judge. But I don't think the lay person jury
: system is working either. Maybe the jury should
: consist of a combination of law students, law
: professors, defence lawyers and prosecutors randomly
: selected from all across the country. Actually, I
: think it would be great to have a jury of law
: students, it would be part of their education, they
: would argue with one another, they have the training
: and ability to look at all aspects of the evidence and
: the arguments and the law itself. They would do better
: than lay persons.
I don't know that I agree. All lawyers or law-related? Law students are mostly kids who have been continually in school for over 16 years. Their life experience is likely to be extremely limited. Their ability to empathize with people from diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups is questionable. Their ability to even understand what it's like to be middle-aged or married with children is questionable. I would not like my fate in the hands of a bunch of over-privileged, under-experienced, arrogant law students in their early twenties.
These lawyers, law professors and so on -- how would they be paid? There are only so many lawyers so they would have to do jury duty a lot. Would we offer government paid positions as professional jurors? That sounds pretty dubious, too.
And should all these experts be lawyers, anyway? They may bring expertise of the subtleties of the law, but what about forensic experts? Psychologists? Pathologists?
I don't know. There are plenty of problems with trial by a jury of your peers, but I think it has no more problems than the alternatives. Besides, in the United States, trial by jury is guaranteed by the Constitution (Article Three and the Sixth and Seventh Amendments). It is pretty fundamental to American society.
: And wall-to-wall media coverage certainly doesn't
: I agree, and I think allowing cameras in the courtroom
: may not be in the best interest of justice. The public
: has a right to know, but the defendant and witnesses
: should have some privacy as well, and trial lawyers
: should focus on the case at hand instead of trying to
: become TV celebrities.
: Exactly. There shouldn't be any cameras in the
: courtroom. This is not allowed in Canada. There are
: journalists in the courtroom but no photography is
: allowed. All the public gets is the artists' drawings
: of the defendants and others in the courtroom. It is
: much better that way.
It always used to be artists' drawings in the US, as well. I have a link that explains how and when that changed, if you're interested:
It is apparently up to the judge whether to allow cameras and/or TV coverage in the courtroom. I personally am against media circuses (which is why I didn't watch the Casey Anthony trial), and would gladly see them banned again. Of course, there can be quite a bit of media hoopla with drawings, news reports, talking heads opinions, etc. without actually broadcasting the proceedings.
: when it is so public, so hyped-up, juries don't dare
: to find defendants guilty.
: Why do you say that?
: I say that because juries have let OJ Simpson and
: Michael Jackson walk. There must be some psychological
: reason why juries are less inclined to convict
: celebrities. Maybe Sterling can say something on that
Well, actually, it seems to me to be the other way around. We are all taught in school that people must be considered innocent until proven guilty (beyond a reasonable doubt). But it has always appeared to me that most people believe that when someone is arrested, they must be guilty. The fury surrounding the Casey Anderson verdict was bone-chilling. People were talking about how they'd like to kill her themselves or how they were glad that she will burn in hell. Not one person seemed to think that she might be innocent. Not one person that I spoke with or saw on the web was happy or satisfied with the verdict.
As a side note, two different lawyers acquaintances told me after the prosecution rested its case that she would be found not guilty. The experts claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove that she was guilty. Since I didn't follow the trial, I'm not exactly sure why, but I gather that the evidence against her was mostly circumstantial. In any event, it seems that if we had had a jury of law experts, they would have reached the same verdict.
I am told that Michael Jackson was acquitted for similar reasons. The prosecution had only the testimony of unreliable witnesses and failed to prove its case.
OJ Simpson was an entirely different matter. Johnnie Cochran and his team managed to divert the trial from being about murder into being a referendum on race. It was a surreal experience to be in a large room filled about half and half with white and black people when the OJ verdict was read. The black people were cheering, hugging, and high-fiveing, while the white people just stood there appalled.
Anyway, those cases are special because the accused were celebrities before the trial. A closer parallel to Casey Anderson is Scott Peterson or even Andrea Yates. Both were high profile trials. Both were found guilty.
: I also don't believe in sequestered juries.
: But with, as you say, so much media coverage, is there
: a choice?
: The choice is no cameras in the courtroom and let the
: jury go home every night and sleep in their own beds
: and see their families and do whatever they want to do
: when they are not in the courtroom.
Sequestered juried are unusual now as well. You hear about them because whenever there is a media frenzy, responsible judges sequester juries. I have a link about this, too:
The jury genuinely needed to be protected from the media onslaught, in my opinion. And, as I said before, there can be quite an uproar in the media without cameras in the courtroom.
The easiest way to be done with it is
: to say "reasonable doubt."
And by the standards of American jurisprudence, if the members of the jury have "reasonable doubt," they must acquit.
Message Thread | Skip to this response ↓
« Back to index