Discussions of justice tend to be very intellectual and high-minded. We think of it as one of the most important functions of The State.

However, famous civil rights attorney and law professor Avery Friedman, in commenting on the unexpected acquittal of Caylee Anthony for murdering her daughter, explained the decision by saying "Of course, another jury might have convicted her."

While it may seem obvious, I was floored. I actually hadn't really thought much about that before. Doesn't that comment by Prof. Friedman really mean that there really can be no such thing as justice? For if justice can't be counted on to be flawlessly consistent, is it justice at all or is it just a form of chance?

Tags: Anthony, Avery, Caylee, Friedman, justice

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This reminded me of of the joke:

When (insert disaster here) happens, where do they bury the survivors?

Which is worse for the innocent man:

A. To be executed.

B. To be imprisoned for the rest of his life.

I think that what we have is a judicial system,  not a justice system.  I know that is splitting hairs, but nonetheless I think it is true.

There is little doubt in my mind that what happens to a defendant depends to a large extent on how much money can be thrown at the problem.  Just think of the O J case.  If he were a poor black man from the iner city, his trial would have lasted a couple of days, the jury would have convicted him in short order.

It was on one of those TV shows about lawyers that an older attorney upbraided a young and idealistic attorney with words like "Son, we don't do justice here, we do the law."

Hell yeah, justice is a matter of chance. 

It's not random chance, though. 

Money, family name, appearance. 

Amazing how much better your chances get when you have more of those sort of things. 

I'm always floored at how different the police treat me if I'm dressed well and driving my new Audi. 

I never get that kind of serving and protecting when I'm out at the waterfront hanging with the bohemians and driving a rape-van.

Just saying...

In addition to the seeming near-randomness of trial-by-jury, yes, wealth can bias the system, taking some of the randomness out of it, but not in a good way. 

Yet another reason to distrust the judicial system.

More cleavage = Less tickets.

Unless the cop is a woman. :D

I'd agree that it is up to chance (with the ability to tip the odds in one's favor with money and other things)

The trial by your peers thing is intended (I believe) to be a sort of "sample" process.  They try to form a decently representative "sample" of everyone in our society, and assume that what that sample would vote is equal to what society as a whole would vote.

Unfortunately, as anyone who knows even a little bit about statistics and proper surveying/sampling techniques can tell you, your margin of error increases the smaller your sample gets (relative to the total population).  I.E. A large total population and a small sample size will give you a much greater margin of error.

12 or so people out of 300 million is not a very good sample.  Even out of the average U.S. city population of somewhere around 7,000-10,000, it's still not a very good sample.

So, there's a huge margin of error.

The solution to this is to increase the sample size (actually, not really a solution, but more of an alleviation of the problem).  Unfortunately, that's not really very feasible to the extent that it would really help.  you just can't bring enough people into one courtroom/deliberation room to satisfy the proper minimum sample size.

A matter of chance no. A matter of politics and money.yes. There is a lot of the Old boy system with in our judicial system. Over 500 treaties were made with American Indian tribes, primarily for land cessations, but 500 treaties were also broken, changed or nullified when it served the government’s interests.

You can find cover up and bribes to make court cases go the way someone wants them to. Is there justice? debatable. 

 Each child who is put into foster care brings hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars to the child protectors. Jobs are created and power is gained. "Counselors" go into business with no customers besides the people CPS forces to go to them (Granted, as with the workers themselves, there are those who only want to do good for these children. Unfortunately, they're in the minority). People go into the "foster care business," both as foster parents and as foster parent agencies that hire foster parents (with literally no controls on them). Many foster parents blatantly consider being a foster parent as a lucrative business where they can make thousands of dollars a month. A lot more than they could make working outside the home. Many foster homes care for five to fifteen children at a time. They make more money than most people could ever dream of making.

And when the inevitable happens and a child is abused, sexually abused, or even killed in foster care, they use the old excuse that they "don't have enough money or enough people" to do the job right.

actual court case against a judge.https://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/71/71.F3d.645.94-2779.html

was way to long to write out.summery bribes and extortion were used.

one of many cases of such.

 so a fair and just legal system doesn't really exist.

Angela, sentences 1 and 2 are stellar.

In terms of the jury system (which I understood to be the main thrust of the original question), yes, there is some element of chance.

The members of the jury are selected at random, and comprise a relatively small sample of the population.  The accused's fate rests on the opinions of potentially biased individuals.  A different jury selection could lead to a different set of biases, and potentially a different verdict.  Even if the case were presented exactly the same to both juries.

So, in some sense, a trial by jury does bring with it an element of chance.

We hope that juries will act without bias, and fairly judge the case based upon purely logical thinking that encompasses only the evidence and testimony given (or rather, only the evidence/testimony that was admissible, and not overturned in court; you can't un-hear something, after all...), but the reality is that this is likely an unattainable ideal.

A different jury selection could lead to a different set of biases, and potentially a different verdict.

What goes on in the jury room can influence the outcome as well, adding further to the, if not randomness, unpredictability.

When it's a fact that one jury might convict you where another might find you guilty based on the same evidence and presentation, that DOES appear to be chance. Yes, dishonesty and money can remove a lot of chance and pervert justice in a bad way, even when that sort of stuff isn't going on, it's chance.

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