Like many others here, my jaw was dropping as I listened to Juror B37 act as if she was part of the defense team for Zimmerman, and forcefully proclaim "everyone has a right to have a gun". I just as forcefully proclaim this woman had her mind made up before the trial even started.
I occasionally watched the circus on CNN (my wife's fault), where one of the lawyers kept repeating that the trial was over as soon as the jury was seated. This is not that unusual. Many trials are determined by who is on the jury. Is this the way we should determine what justice is? Are people who believe everyone should have a gun and express an almost paranoid delusional concern for safety, qualified to pass judgement in "stand your ground" trials. Are people who believe aliens are visiting the earth or that the earth is only 7 thousand years old, qualified to understand, much less determine the validity of complex scientific forensic evidence?
Murderers walk free, a women shoots a gun in the air and gets a 20 year sentence, people of color are disproportionately found guilty and sent to prison, white collar criminals seldom get convicted while corporations even less... The jury system is broken and it's time to think about professional juries.
This is from an article by Daniel Solove
But there’s another lesson to be learned from this case. We should have professional juries. I’m increasingly of the opinion that our jury system is a joke. Consider some of the very thoughtful points Professor Martin wrote in his article about his experiences:We will never get rid of these ridiculous verdicts when we allow irrational and unqualified people to sit in judgement over matters most don't even understand.
I became acutely aware that jurors are not generally permitted to ask questions during trial (except through written request). . . .
Additionally, jurors are usually prohibited from taking notes. . . .
In preparation of our deliberation, the judge gave us detailed instructions, which in this case lasted about an hour. These instructions amounted to a mini-course in tort law, similar in content to what some law students have trouble absorbing over the course of a full semester. Although the judge read from carefully prepared notes, we again were prevented from taking our own notes (but reminded that we must closely follow all of the instructions).
First, it is ridiculous that juries are basically taught the law after hearing the facts of the case. If one is applying a rule, shouldn’t one know about the rule first in order to determine which facts are relevant and which are not?
Second, it takes law students three years to learn the law — or at least a semester to learn a specific subject like torts — and yet juries are expected to understand the law after just one brief lecture from the judge. Who are we kidding when we think that the jury is really applying the law? Juries probably have little to no idea about what the law is.
Third, many judges disallow note-taking. But in lengthy trials — or even in trials lasting a day or two — how are jurors supposed to remember the details? And in the case Martin describes, the jurors weren’t allowed to take notes about the law when the judge instructed it. I’d like to try an experiment — give a bunch of judges an hour lecture about a specific set of legal rules, not let them take notes, and then see how much they remember. This is difficult even for those with legal training — imagine how hard it must be for those without such training!
We’re in the 21st Century, and our legal system uses a method of adjudication that was invented in the Middle Ages. It’s time for a more professional way of resolving legal disputes, one where the decisionmakers are not a bunch of often-unwilling people plucked from the street, forced to upend their lives to resolve the disputes of others, and without the expertise to evaluate the facts and apply the law.