The jury considering the so-called "loud music trial" convicted Michael Dunn of the four lesser charges but couldn't reach a unanimous decision on the first degree murder charge. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison since the charges he was convicted on are serious and his time will be served consecutively.
But what I'm writing about is something one of the legal eagles said in commentary, and it's something I've heard several times before in major high-stakes trials, which goes "A different jury might have reached a different verdict,"
Think about that for a minute.
If different juries can reach different verdicts based on identical facts, testimony, and legal arguments/instructions,...
...where is the justice? What is its relation to truth?
The criminal justice system in America is nowhere near perfect by any stretch of the imagination. As to how different juries can reach different decisions when confronted with the same evidence in a case, it only demonstrates that, as humans, we interpret data differently. Throw in personal prejudice and a lack of objectivity and it is not surprising that different outcomes will result. Jury selection is a crap shoot at best.
What claim does the judicial system have to public confidence when two different juries can reach different conclusions on the same prosecutorial presentation? Perhaps convictions shouldn't be based on nebulous concepts like "beyond reasonable doubt," "clear and convincing evidence," and "peponderance of the evidence" but should be based only on "absolute certainty." What would absolute certainty consist of?: caught on camera, clearly witnessed by a large number of people, etc.
If jurors could somehow distance themselves from their personal emotions, politics, and prejudices as instructed, the system would be fair. The jury selection process is supposed to accomplish this. Deep political divisions and the prolific crime-based media is making it even more difficult to assemble a fair jury. I would think a standard of absolute certainty would be so hard to prove that many guilty criminals would be free to carry on. I already believe the system errs on the side of not guilty more than the other way round.
A fair jury that follows instruction is the key. Easier said than done.
If jurors could somehow distance themselves from their personal emotions, politics, and prejudices as instructed, the system would be fair.
Procedurally fair perhaps, even if the verdict is 100% wrong.
I don't want a trial which is procedurally fair. I want one which exonerates me if I'm innocent.
Suppose a jury reaches a wrong result and convicts me of murder. What comfort is it to know that at least I got a fair trial?
To take an example, suppose someone who has a grudge against you somehow puts some child pornography in your computer and then drops a dime on you.
The police and prosecutors see you as a pedophile.
How comforting is it to know that it all depends upon a jury and that they don't reach their results in anything resembling a method with mathematical certainty, such the one jury may send you to prison for 20 years and leave you as a pedophile who must register as a sex offender, but another jury might acquit you,
In other words, the outcome doesn't have anything to do with the truth.
The day will come that you may have some sort of totally secure 24/7 recording device implant that can prove your innocence or guilt, rendering the jury system obsolete.
Who in their right mind wants their personal activities recorded 24/7?
The public streets in London England are video taped 24/7 everyday, it's very difficult to commit a crime in London and get away with it.
Exactly, that is the price for absolute justice. It's a mean trade-off. I prefer proper selection and training of jurors to evaluate the evidence properly. But lets face it, we are just getting started as far as camera and the surveillance of our lives. Will it help achieve more perfect justice? I think so. Is it worth it? -not so sure. It didn't stop those religious freaks from butchering that soldier in London. But at least they aren't getting away with it.
The day will come that you may have some sort of totally secure 24/7 recording device...
The surveillance state is here. Any adult who uses a gadget is already targeted or (if you trust the NSA) potentially targeted.
The system within the system is all about human psychology and there are 12 subjects being studied, a high end legal firm that has the money to spend will apply a lot of resources behind the scene to get to know the individual jurors and how they think.
The goal is to affect 12 people to interpret the evidence in your favor.
It's not about truth nor justice, it is all about applied human psychology.