Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Jurist Imprudence

A stand-up comic once pointed out that the problem behind juries is that they are made up of twelve people who weren't bright enough to get out of jury duty. Couple this with jury selection processes that attempts to exclude potential jurors who can rationally analyze facts and aims for idiots who are easily swayed by emotional arguments. John points out how problems with the jury pool were a major factor in the recent Merck lawsuit.

Several suggestions have been made to remedy this problem. The most obvious one is to remove juries entirely and instead rely on the expertise and experience of a judge. The big problem with this is that jury trial is a massively important legal institution. Instead of arguing your case before the government (often against a government representative) you are arguing your case before people like you. While it is possible to stack jury, it is also likely that many judges come pre-stacked (as it were) for your convenience.

I think the most obvious thing we could do is tighten up the jury selection process. If that doesn't yield results than perhaps making juror a real part-time job might not be out of the question. Thoughts?

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