Notes Book

Trial by Jury

The United States Constitution says “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury…”

A few months ago¸ I was drafted to be a prospective juror in such an event, and I don't think it bore much resemblance to the vision described in the Constitution.

The Assistant DA was a female weighing in at about 400 pounds. The Judge and the defense attorney were your standard issue old white men, and the prospective jurors were intimidated and clueless. The defendant was a Hispanic young man on trial for child molestation.

At the beginning of the process the judge asked if anyone had any biases that would cause him or her to be biased for or against the defendant. I held up my hand, but the judge just breezed on to the next point is his speech. I'm not sure whether he didn't see me or just thought he could intimidate me into staying in the jury pool.

So I got to watch the process of selecting the appropriate puppets for the show trial. The judge would ask the prospective jurors if they thought they could be fair, and for the most part, the hemmed and hawed a bit and the allowed that they could. There were several that were prejudiced against child molesters because of personal experience, and several that were challenged by one side or the other and excused.

Finally, it came my turn. The judge asked me if I was prejudiced, and I told him that the Constitution called for a trial by jury, and I didn't see “this” as a trial by jury, therefore I would have difficulty finding anyone guilty of anything under the current system.

At this point the defense attorney stood up, and the judge let him have the floor. How could we know that that was the way I really felt, he asked. Was I just pretending to believe that to get out of jury duty?

He wanted to know what site that was, so I rattled of the URL. At that point the judge took the floor again and told me I could go.

Perhaps if I had stood up in addition to holding up my hand when the judge asked the first question, I could have saved myself a couple of days of involuntary servitude.

If it were really a trial by jury, the jury would get paid more than the judge, the jury would be able to ask questions directly, do research, and consult their own advisors. Until that happens, our system of “justice” will have little relation to the system described in the Constitution of the United States of America.