Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Juries.

It is time to to redefine the jurist. A "Jury of one's peers" is no longer sufficient. Most of those who actually stand jury duty are those who can not find a way to get out of it. Which quite frankly lowers the quality of mental capacity of those standing jury duty. And even if they are smart, they may be lacking in the basic education to understand introduced evidence on specific topics, and lawyers can use this to manipulate how that evidence is viewed as fact or not.

My proposal is the Professional Jurist. Now, the professional jurist must NOT be a lawyer. However, they must be given a grounding in law, so education towards the degree or specialist degree for this would include basic college courses in constitutional law, perhaps a class in the history of law, and similar, to give the jurist a broad understanding of how the law works, plus a class focusing on the powers & duties of the jury. For example, most juries are utterly unaware of their power of 'jury nullification'. And until the mid 1800's, juries were actively informed of their right & power to nullify a law for a particular case.

So now with a solid understand of their rights and responsibilities as jurists, they should receive a broad technical education. One basic computer class and one basic networking/internet class should cover most of what they need to know about computers. Now they just need Biology, Chemistry, and Physics 101, along with basic and advance courses in critical thinking/debate, and a class or two in psychology.

This should leave them well defended against the manipulations of the lawyers, and well armed to understand the facts and decide the truth for any given case. I'm open to other suggestions of what should be in their education for this position.

Now, working the professional jurist into the current system. I would ease them in, and keep them spread thin at first. If there is a case and 1 or more professional jurists available, then one of them would be on the jury for that case. Only one would be used per jury, because there would only be a few at first, and even one should provide some helpful insight to the rest of the jury.

As more are hired as they graduate etc, the number of them in any given jury should increase, with the intent of moving to a situation where the entire jury is professional. The biggest downfall, aside from the fact that all of this requires a constitutional amendment in order to implement, is that this means each trial will cost more. But then, I can always hope that if we reach the point where we can institute a rational system like this, we will also be at the point of instituting the fines-based punishment system I described in a previous blog entry.


  1. That is a good idea, and I like your list of subjects they should study, especially the emphasis on critical thinking. In particular, the courses should focus on how to judge the credibility of evidence - so, critical thinking but also skeptical thinking.

    I would totally want to be a professional juror.

  2. How did I not leave my own reply when I entered it earlier? Anyway, yes, I was thinking skeptical thinking would be part of critical, and I agree, it does sound like a good job, doesn't it? :)