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View Diary: Death Penalty Juries: Are You Excluded? (115 comments)

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  •  The question asked seems correct enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, marykk

    to me: can you find the facts and apply the law?

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:01:06 PM PST

    •  That would be fine (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mattman, marykk, crose, Munchkn

      if voir dire questions were restricted to that angle alone. Once the hypotheticals are posed, however, someone's opinion about your answers will prevail.

      •  Sure, the trial judge's. (0+ / 0-)

        There's really no workable alternative, is there?

        We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

        by burrow owl on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:16:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure there is...abolish the death penalty. n/t (6+ / 0-)
        •  Justice is an alternative (6+ / 0-)

          And so is following the Constitution.

          "The Law" is an abstract construct which cannot be defined by one person. That's why we have trial by a jury of peers.

          The death penalty questions are a way of removing peers who are not strong supporters of the prosecutor. It's a way of leaning on the scales of justice to favor the prosecution.

          "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:46:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I support the death penalty in rare instances (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kbman, FishOutofWater

            Mass murder and murder by a previously convicted first degree murderer sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole, but -

            I agree with you fully as to the exclusion of potential jurors from juries in death penalty cases.

            And I was appalled at John Ashcroft's maneuvers to transfer state murder cases in states which did not have a death penalty into the federal courts.

            "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

            by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:54:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  In theory, they remove people that would hesitate (0+ / 0-)

            in applying the law as is their duty as jurors (bracketing nullification for the moment).  I don't doubt that particular judges favor the prosecution,  but the process of weeding people out that won't apply the law seems like an obvious procedure.

            We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

            by burrow owl on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:57:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Let me sharpen that a bit: (0+ / 0-)

              the only alternative that comes to mind is deference to the juror.  If she says she can apply the law fairly, then the prosecutor has no right to object and the judge no right to sustain the objection.

              Is that a better procedure for ferreting out jurors that won't evenly apply the existing law?  It would seem to preclude a lot of reasonable objections.  Take Shane's hypo downthread about the racist juror that won't just come out and admit her racism: should the defense be foreclosed from arguing that, based on the totality of her responses, the juror is biased against blacks and therefore unable to evenly apply the law?

              We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

              by burrow owl on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:04:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Huh? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman, dharmafarmer, Munchkn, DParker

              Is the right to a fair trial not "the law"?

              What you are suggesting is that support for the death penalty is a special part of the law that is above other parts of the law in how we treat it in court.

              What about a jury by peers?

              What you are suggesting is obvious is one part of the system that the south has used to get all white juries to put black men to death.

              "It's the planet, stupid."

              by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:08:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The ability to apply the law as enacted (0+ / 0-)

                is a necessary part of the juror's duty.  That's not radical or zany: it's a fundamental component of what the jury does.  

                We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

                by burrow owl on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:11:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not necessarily true (4+ / 0-)

                  otherwise, why have juries?  It is the judgment of the individuals comprising the jury in which the decision rests.  And it is quite appropriate for a jury to seek JUSTICE rather than to mechanically "apply the law as enacted".  Jury nullification is LEGAL.  Judges may not like it.  Prosecutors may not like it.  That is why they go to extreme lengths to disallow jurors who are not fully invested in the authoritarianism inherent in our system of "justice".

                  By popular demand: Cannabis Legalization Now!

                  by kbman on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:18:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The law is not written on stone tablets (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  marina, dharmafarmer, Munchkn

                  The congress that passes laws often doesn't know what the hell they mean. Congress often makes ambiguous compromises in legislation.

                  The law is not a rigid set of prescriptions.

                  Go to the Jefferson memorial and read Jefferson's words about the Constitution.

                  And FWIW jury nullification is part of the law.

                  "It's the planet, stupid."

                  by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:55:18 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Which is why we shouldn't be surprised (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dharmafarmer

            to see so many wrongful convictions in capital cases.  A death-qualified jury is far more likely to believe police officers, to be suspicious of defense lawyers, and to go along with whatever the  prosecutor wants than is a jury drawn from a true cross-section of society.

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

            by DParker on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:37:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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