I have only been a juror once. I have been called many times, and, like voting, I believe it is a very important civic duty. However, every time I’ve been called I’ve been unavailable (usually because I’ve been abroad). I think I was chosen because I was close in age to both defendant and plaintiff and that I expressed no opinions on criminal justice one way or the other.
I’ve thought about that jury selection ever since. Because studies have shown that selection is not unbiased, and that few people get fair hearings. I think also about Grand jury selections: are these people really peers? Or are they easily persuaded, intimidated by the knowledge and seeming expertise of the prosecutor? We have seen Grand juries come on the side of the prosecutor and the state too many times to say that they are unbiased.
In America, a trial is treated like a tennis match: constant volleying of questions from either side and intervention by the lines-person (the Judge). And just like a tennis match, the stronger player wins. But of course: Roger Federer will beat the number 115 seed every time; Federer has experience and power, and a damn good coach.
The prosecutor is usually the stronger “opponent”, and when they are up against a weak opponent, like a public defender and a scared 18 year old who made a dumb choice, he will win. And society will lose, and we shall be poorer for it. – SDM
If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.
Photo by Edward Lich