Twelve People Who Cannot Get Out Of Jury Duty Are Not My Peers

by Lizard

What's wrong with American justice? It's simple:

a)Jury duty is slavery.

b)Slaves do lousy work.

Thus, OJ is scouring golf courses for 'the real killers', and morons who ignored the Surgeon Generals' warning for 20 years are awarded millions of dollars instead of a boot to the head (Neh-neh) and a verdict of "Too stupid to live".

The 13th Amendment makes it clear that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" shall be permitted in the United States. Is jury duty a service? Yes. Do people volunteer for it? No. Thus, it is involuntary servitude, and should be considered unconstitutional. It won't be, of course, because our present system of juries serves the lawyers, and we are a nation of lawyers, not men.

So there you have it -- juries are composed of slaves. Beginning from that, though, the current system manages to make it even worse. Are you well-educated? We don't want you. Do you have strong political, ethical, or moral opinions? Get lost. Are you aware of the world around you, a regular reader of newspapers? Scram. Do you have a good job, a position of responsibility where you're used to making critical decisions? Beat it.

So we have juries of the unemployed, the ignorant, the mindless. We begin with a random sampling of humanity and strip away anyone actually qualified to think dispassionately, rationally, and intelligently about the issues -- then we turn the running of the court system, the thing that diffrentiates a society from a mob, over to them. This is why murderers walk free and multi-million dollar awards are handed out not on the basis of responsibility, but on the basis of how many tears were shed by the witnesses.

But society needs juries, you claim! True, it does. It also needs doctors, accountants, garbagemen, school teachers, and people to stand on the bus cursing at the martians, but we do not draft these people from a general pool, then rub acid in the open wounds by throwing back the ones most qualified to do the work. If there are too few school teachers or doctors, we suffer a bit, but we do not let that suffering cause us to assemble press gangs to compel people to fill the roles needed for society to function. Even in the other classic example of legal slavery, the draft, we still maintain a large set of professionals to do the work full time, and, when we do begin the enslavement process, we at least select people who can manage to carry a rifle onto a battlefield. (Imagine if the processing of draftees was like the processing of potential jurors. "You -- the strapping young 21 year old with five years of target shooting and a constitution like an ox on steroids and wearing the 'Kill them all, let God sort them out' T-shirt -- get lost, you're not soldier material. We'll take the 67 year old lifetime member of HCI with the 'You Can't Hug A Child With Nuclear Arms' bumper sticker on his 60's VW van."

As with all other roles society 'needs' to function, the answer is simple:If you want the job done right, turn it over to professionals, and make it pay well enough to attract the best qualified. Just as the government has lawyers, so to it shall have pools of jurors. Just as there are private lawyers, so too shall there be private jurors. A jury shall consist of six from each side, but they must still reach a unanimous verdict. More importantly, all debates, conversations, discussions, etc shall be made public for full review after the trial. (Indeed, this should be done even today. Why is the most crucial part of the trial -- the thumbs up/thumbs down, the decision to set a man free or condemn him to poverty, prison, or perdition held in secret, while the rest is open to full public view?)

Some would objecct that this process is open to corruption. No more so, and possibly less so, than the present system. Some would say that 'professional' jurors would, by definition, be a non-representative slice of the populace. True, but again -- no worse, and possibly better, than the present system. More to the point, why is it wrong for them to be 'non representative'? Judges and lawyers rarely mirror the populace as a whole, why should jurors? Would you want to have your defense handled by some shmuck plucked off the street? How about your sentencing? Why, then, would you want the decision of guilt or innocence to be so handled?

Lizard posts his writings at