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View Diary: The presumption of guilt, or why jurors cannot be trusted with human lives (34 comments)

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  •  The justice system is flawed... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkLadyNyara, marina, myboo, sberel, DParker

    not just the jury system.  I see more potential benefit in doing away with capital punishment than eliminating juries.

    •  I must have really (5+ / 0-)

      messed up.  I am not advocating against the jury system, but against that system sitting in judgment on human lives.

      We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

      by DParker on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:05:47 PM PDT

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      •  It might have been the title (3+ / 0-)
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        Christin, CaliSista, jgilhousen

        It seemed pretty clear to me what you meant, but I can see where the title would lead to someone thinking you were against the jury system as a whole. /2cents

        The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges. - Anatole France

        by DarkLadyNyara on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:14:49 PM PDT

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      •  You didn't mess up at all (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DParker, eglantine, jgilhousen

        Some people are a little too nit picky and there are some very serious problems with the whole legal system including the jury system.

      •  Not really...It's clear that you are arguing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DParker, jgilhousen

        against the death penalty but much of the reasoning you use speaks to all jury trials.

        First, jurors are  the generally more frightened of wrongly releasing a rapist, child molester, or murderer than of wrongfully convicting someone of a heinous crime.
        I can't provide numbers but I'm fairly certain that prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for the overwhelming majority of people charged with these crimes. Even if they did, there seems to be a gaping hole between death penalty and release which leads the reader to presume you mean jurors can't be trusted not to wrongly imprison due to their fears.
        Generally speaking, people who end up charged with serious criminal charges are poor, or people of color, or people with drug or alcohol issues, or people with psychiatric issues, or people who lead very different lifestyles from those of the jurors.
        True of all trials - not just death penalty ones.
        The result is that jurors who presume the defendant guilty find their mindset celebrated in popular media, while those who actually take their oath seriously are vilified and threatened by the public.
        Again, true of all jury trials.
        Third, in capital cases the deck is further stacked against the defendant by the process of "death-qualifying" the jury.
        This reason, which is the first one to directly address death penalty cases, is buried a bit in your diary. I believe that the above are why people are misunderstanding your main intent.

        As an aside, the case you cite as an honorable decision by a prosecutor is likely seen by some to be the mirror image of your second argument

        Second, defendants in serious cases tend to look different from the jurors and to lead different lives from theirs.
        Here we have a White well off potential defendant against a poorer women of color who may have gotten in the country by dishonest means and whose story has been called into question.  Much easier to brush her off rather than get embarrassed by a defendant with means to mount a vigorous defense, right?

        "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

        by CaliSista on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 12:44:25 AM PDT

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        •  You are right, CaliSista (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jgilhousen, CaliSista

          I did muddle the point, which was that juries are more likely to get it wrong in serious cases, capital or non-capital, and that that dynamic is tragic in life cases, but unacceptable in death ones.  I was not nearly as clear as I should have been.

          I hesitated about putting the Strauss-Kahn reference in, but I do believe that the prosecutors did what they thought was right.  The facts that the defendant is privileged and the complaining witness is not is no more a reason for subjecting him to a trial than would be those facts in reverse. Finally,  I'm not sure it was easier for them to drop the case than to try it.   Certainly there would have no political fallout from proceeding with the prosecution.

          We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

          by DParker on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 07:09:30 AM PDT

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          •  I have to disagree somewhat about DSK. (0+ / 0-)

            None of us can be sure what the prosecution had or didn't have in the way of evidence. Would their decision have been the same if they were facing a public defender instead of the best lawyers money can buy? In the wake of the Duke Lacrosse case, the bar on these type of prosecutions has been raised.

            Say there was enough evidence to go to trial but the case is weak. I see two scenarios:

            If the prosecution goes forward, they are guaranteed months or years of media attention and scrutiny by the HLN ambulance chasers, using up tons of scarce resources, defense lawyers digging up every bit of dirt on the alleged victim, continuous insinuations that she's in it for a paycheck, all winding up with a likely acquittal.

            They decide against prosecution and there are a few rumblings by Black people or the Caribbean immigrant community that say DSK is only getting off because he's rich and the alleged victim is Black. No one pays much attention because "they're always whining about race". DSK leaves the country and the prosecutors wash their hands of the whole mess.

            What's the downside?

            "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

            by CaliSista on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 11:03:28 PM PDT

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      •  I very well may have read too quickly... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DParker

        and being somewhat preoccupied.

        To be honest, I have some serious issues with the jury system.  I just don't know what would be a better substitute.  So, there may have been some serious projection on my part going on during my read, as mixed feelings on these topics are very much aroused.

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