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The Jury System

The jury system is one in which a group of laypersons deliberate a case brought to trial in total secrecy, arrive at a unanimous decision, and present their verdict. This system is commonly in practice in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Jury trials have been held in high regard for their role in ensuring fairness to defendants. Such was their impact that famous American statesman Thomas Jefferson remarked “Jury trial was the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which government can be held to the principles of its constitution”. “[n]othing can be a greater security for life, liberty, and property than the jury system” said renowned economist Adam Smith.

Trial before a jury is believed to be by far less influenced by bias than the one before individual judge. When jurors from different economic and social statuses discuss and debate a case, individual biases get considerably toned down. Studies show that in the United Kingdom, defendants opt for jury trial instead of the one before individual judge. They hold a strong belief that jury trials will not be blighted by bias. Further, a study by Professor Samuel Sommers at Tufts University reported that racially diverse jurors raised a wider range of questions and made few factual errors. Additionally, these jurors were willing to deliberate on uncomfortable and contentious issues related to race.

Another significant aspect of a jury trial is its sustained deliberations until unanimity is achieved. This makes certain that every argument is deliberated to do justice to both prosecutor and defendant. Also, this assures those who have been accused based on circumstantial evidence that the trial will be comprehensive and objective. Research has found that in order to achieve unanimity, the jurors deliberate longer, which might otherwise not happen. This was evidenced in a case involving former chairman of Cendant Corporation. The government was able to win a fraud conviction in the third jury trial after the previous two ended in a deadlock.

In conclusion, it is evident that the jury system ensures that defendants are not unreasonably punished because of prejudice and unbalanced trial. And, as for the laypersons who serve as jurors, the process of taking part in deliberations helps them inculcate the values of diligence, harmonious conflict resolution, and impartiality.


(In the beginning, I have mentioned what jury system is because my readers are high school students and those who have just joined universities. I think they are not much aware of the jury system)

I have served on quite a few criminal and civil juries, from murder to illegal drug possession, so have some personal experience. My mother and a good friend have served on grand juries. I have only served on petit juries. The American system may be different from other countries' and my comments might not extend to them.



The Jury System

The jury system is one in which a group of citizens laypersons deliberate a case brought to trial in total secrecy, arrive at a unanimous decision, and present their verdict. This system is commonly in practiced in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Jury trials have been held in high regard for their role in ensuring fairness to defendants. Such was their impact that famous American statesman Thomas Jefferson remarked “Jury trial was the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which government can be held to the principles of its constitution”. “[n]othing can be a greater security for life, liberty, and property than the jury system” said renowned economist Adam Smith.

Trial before a jury is believed to be by far less influenced by bias than one in which the defendant appears the one before an individual judge. (Actually, this system exists in parallel to jury trials in the US. These are small claims courts and lessor offences (misdemeanors) where the person can choose between a court trial and jury trial.) When jurors from different economic and social statuses discuss and debate a case, individual biases get considerably toned down. Studies show that in the United Kingdom, defendants opt for jury trial instead of the one before individual judge. They hold a strong belief that jury trials will not be blighted by bias. Further, a study by Professor Samuel Sommers at Tufts University reported that racially diverse jurors raised a wider range of questions and made few factual errors. Additionally, these jurors were willing to deliberate on uncomfortable and contentious issues related to race.

Another significant aspect of a jury trial is its sustained deliberations are continued until unanimity is achieved. (Actually, that is not true. There are times when there is a "hung jury" and no verdict is reached. Further, there are some types of cases where only a majority or supermajority is required. This happened on my last jury, where 9 of the 12 members came to one conclusion and 3 had the opposite opinion. Unanimity is required for the most severe cases, such as murder.) This makes certain that every argument is deliberated to do justice to both prosecutor and defendant. Also, this assures those who have been accused based on circumstantial evidence that the trial will be comprehensive and objective. Research has found that in order to achieve unanimity, the jurors deliberate longer, which might otherwise not happen. This was evidenced in a case involving former chairman of Cendant Corporation. The government was able to win a fraud conviction in the third jury trial after the previous two ended in a deadlock.

In conclusion, it is evident that the jury system ensures that defendants are not unreasonably punished because of prejudice and unbalanced trial. (Watch one of the videos below) And, as for the laypersons citizens who serve as jurors, the process of taking part in deliberations helps them inculcate the values of diligence, harmonious conflict resolution, and impartiality.


(In the beginning, I have mentioned what jury system is because my readers are high school students and those who have just joined universities. I think they are not much aware of the jury system)

The classic play "12 angry men" is highly recommended to moderate your idealism.
It was broadcast on TV in 1954. Here is the original (with ads!) and there is a modern production.

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Thank you very much, AlpheccaStars.

I just logged in. Seeing your reply, I think there is a lot for me to learn.

I will go through each of the comments and corrections carefully.


Thank you once again.

Suresh

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If you are interested in juries, watch one of the videos. The second is a modern production. The words are the same, but the actors are different. I watched the second one today.

Thank you, AlpheccaStars.

I will watch the first one. I feel I will like it better.

AlpheccaStarsI have served on quite a few criminal and civil juries, from murder to illegal drug possession, so have some personal experience. My mother and a good friend have served on grand juries. I have only served on petit juries. The American system may be different from other countries' and my comments might not extend to them.

I am very happy that you have had this experience in your life.

Honestly, I know very little of the jury system. I learnt about it for the first time when I saw the "12 Angry Men" some five years ago.

As you may be aware I am practicing writing. When I sit down to write I go through the topics and choose a topic which sounds interesting. Thereafter, I study about it for some time and begin writing.

AlpheccaStarsThese are small claims courts and lessor offences (misdemeanors) where the person can choose between a court trial and jury trial.)

Is something missing between "and" and "lessor"?

AlpheccaStarsThere are times when there is a "hung jury" and no verdict is reached. Further, there are some types of cases where only a majority or super-majority is required. This happened on my last jury, where 9 of the 12 members came to one conclusion and 3 had the opposite opinion. Unanimity is required for the most severe cases, such as murder.)

Noted. Thank you

AlpheccaStarsThe classic play "12 angry men" is highly recommended to moderate your idealism.

Sure. I will watch.


Twelve angry men has been one of my most liked films.

And, though I knew a little about the demerits of the jury system, I avoided it to maintain the logical flow of the essay.

In other words, I wanted it to keep it short—without making it argumentative essay—so that I achieve a little more in inter-sentence transition and conciseness.

But, as you have pointed you, I have failed in pointing out the demerits.


Thank you once again for your comments and corrections.


Suresh

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