Friday, December 30, 2011

Why Trial By Jury? - 2

Almost three years ago Dredd Blog did a piece on the reason for the requirement of juries in our Constitution.

In that post we pointed out that the jury specification includes the requirement that a grand jury must be used to ponder the validity of government assertions of criminality, a requirement for a trial by petite jury, if criminal charges are brought by a grand jury, then finally in non-criminal cases involving civil matters over money or property, our Constitution requires a petite civil jury.

That Dredd Blog post was moved to the Toxins of Power blog because, as explained in that post, one of the reasons for jury involvement in our legal system is the notion that power corrupts:
Once the grand jury returns an indictment, still another petite jury must be convinced unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual who was charged is in fact to be held accountable for those charges. And the person charged need not say a single word. The prosecutor carries the entire burden to prove it. Is that fair? No. But it is safe.

Let us look at some abstract examples. In the courts during trials experts are used. In the typical case experts will give their opinions to the jury. Typically this means an opposite opinion for each side. The experts are sworn in, list their degrees, and the court makes a ruling that they are experts.

Afterwards those experts explain that they looked at the evidence, and then they tell the jury what their opinion is. The expert for the defense has one opinion, but the expert for the prosecutor typically has another and different opinion. On the exact same evidence I should add.

Finally, the everyday folk on the jury make the decision as to which expert was right and who was telling the truth! Yes, the person who left the farm after a 5:00 AM breakfast, and then drove the truck into town for that day's jury duty, decides which rocket scientist had it right.

If you are still wondering why this is so, remember that the foundation of jury theory is that the people can determine facts better or more accurately than those immersed in governmental power can. By “better or more accurately" I mean in the context of the effects that governmental power has on individuals.

We have found that historically, by and large, the people tend not to oppress their fellow citizens like governmental agents have tended to do. The old saying that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely" is directed at governments. It is not directed at juries of the people.

Juries are the people's reaction to the oppression of tyrants who have inebriated themselves with the toxins active within governmental power.

Oh to be sure juries make mistakes. But the mistakes of the people are much easier to live with over the long run than the mistakes of government.

So say the sages of the ages.
(Why Trial By Jury?). The work of a jury is not always easy, for one reason because experts often disagree on the same set of facts.

In yesterday's post, The Memes of Penrose - 3, I discussed the fact that the experts who disagree can even be top experts in a given field.

The video at the end of today's post shows why a grand jury, then a petite jury, should be used to determine the ongoing expert disagreements concerning many 9/11 controversies.

Two ex-Senators have sworn under oath that Saudi Arabia is likely linked to the 9/11 attacks.

Senator Kerry, a 9/11 Commission co-chair, and Senator Graham of Florida, submitted affidavits setting forth their testimony.

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