June 14, 2005

Rule Based Upon The Law

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the framework for jury trials within the United States.

It reads as follows:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

If you want to define what a jury is you could use the following definition:
Law. A body of persons sworn to judge and give a verdict on a given matter, especially a body of persons summoned by law and sworn to hear and hand down a verdict upon a case presented in court.
In recent times many people have been upset with the outcome of some celebrity trials because they have been convinced by what they have read/heard in the media and have formulated their own opinions on what should have happened.

While it may feel good to say that the jury was
ignorant, stupid, liberal or use some other pejorative term it does not necessarily mean that this is so.

Juries come to decisions based upon the evidence that is presented to them and the instructions that are given to them by the judge. Or in some cases they may disregard everything and engage in jury nullification.

The acquitting of a defendant by a jury in disregard of the judge's instructions and contrary to the jury's findings of fact
- Jury nullification is most likely to occur when a jury is sympathetic toward a defendant or regards the law under which the defendant is charged with disfavor. Except for a statutory requirement to the contrary, a jury does not have to be instructed on the possibility of jury nullification.

One of the more famous cases of jury nullification is that of John Peter Zenger.
I am not an attorney, but I have been a member of two different juries and have discussed/compared my experiences with friends and relatives around the states and have a couple more thoughts to share about this.

  1. Juries have instructions that they are required to follow. These instructions may prohibit the introduction of evidence into deliberations. You may not like this. You may consider it to be unfair or unreasonable but it is part of the rules we work under.
  2. Juries may not understand their instructions. You can call me a snob but some my fellow jurors were light in the closet, their bulbs did not burn so bright.
  3. And as mentioned earlier they could engage in jury nullification.
Something else to consider is this. A not guilty verdict does not always mean that the jury thinks that the defendant is innocent. It could mean that they felt that they did not have enough evidence to convict them.

That is a frustrating place to be if you feel strongly, but it is part of the system we live under.

3 comments:

Alice said...

One of the male jurors said flat out that he thinks that MJ is a child molester, but that there simply was not enough evidence.

Clearly no one has seen all of the evidence with the exception of the people in the courtroom. From a distant position, I wonder if the jury, a bunch of very very normal looking and sounding individuals, didn't just look a the circus freaks before them on the stand and decide there was no way any of them could be believed. Which actually makes me feel better about the system in some maybe not so rational but real way.

Stacey said...

OJ got off. Robert Blake got off. And now Michael Jackson gets full acquittal.

Your city has gotten the reputation that celebrities truly are above the law or that the public is dumb and starstruck.

Jack's Shack said...

Your city has gotten the reputation that celebrities truly are above the law or that the public is dumb and starstruck.

I am not real concerned about the opinions of rednecks, losers and idiots who think that they are clairvoyant.

Given the time and resources I can go through cases in every city and provide facts that show that this happens in every city.

Opinions are like assh*oles everyone has got one, but that doesn't mean that there is any validity to it. They have to prove the case and if there is doubt then it doesn't go further.