Tuesday, February 04, 2003

An interesting if somewhat undeveloped read on the cons of a jury in a civil case by Jacob Sullum. It would be interesting to see a proposal that would attempt to eliminate the kind of jurist manipulation so often heard of, as it would be to have substantitive proof that such manipulation is commonplace & has no immediate remedy.
One thing that was not mentioned but which could possibly help our system of jurisprudence would be a revival of the old, but still legally valid concept of jury nullification. The idea that juries should judge the law as well as the facts of a case before them is a very old one & is one of the safeguards against governmental misconduct. Most of the recent cases I have heard of where this was mentioned resulted in the judge objecting & re-issuing his instructions to the jury stating that the are only to judge facts in the case & only specific conclusions which the judge explains can be reached.
On a similar note it seems a layperson has brought questions before a Grand Jury in Texas & they have indicted a local police officer for filing a false report as a result. It is not commonly known among those outside of the legal profession of the power a Grand Jury wields when it sits, & those on Grand Jury's are not usually aware of what they can do. It's probably even lesser known that in some jurisdictions a citizen can bring a matter directly before a Grand Jury. As a result of those two omissions a D.A. usually leads a Grand Jury around to whatever agenda he has. I feel that this too is an area of jurisprudence that if restored to the publics knowledge could prevent a lot of the harm that has been caused by our respective governments.

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