You can read this entire chapter in its original single-page scroll on the comic’s old Tumblr site here.
I guess my state is pretty backward. Jurors get to take notes and pass questions to the judge to ask witnesses. The judge keeps instructions simple, giving just “bare bones” instructions. The jury takes the instructions when they deliberate. The jury can even see a video playback of testimony if they want (in open court). They also get to take most of the exhibits with them. For some reason, the judge doesn’t usually let them take the guns or illegal drugs seized as evidence. Oh well, no system is perfect.
I can follow the logic behind most of these things… but why aren’t jurors allowed to examine a copy of the record or of the judge’s instructions?
I can answer that in one.
My girlfriend sometimes reads things aloud off a piece of paper. Often when she does this, she will forget small and insignificant words. Words like “not”…
Maybe we should have the judge and jury switch roles. The judge is the one who went to law school and works in the American legal system every day. So have the judge decide whether the defendant violated the law or not. Then have the jury, the closest thing to a representative sample of the population the justice system has, act as the conscience of the community and decide what the defendant’s punishment will be if the judge decides that they are guilty.
My preference would be to have the jury decide what the facts are, and then have the judge apply those facts to the law to decide whether the crime was proven or not. Jurors are best at determining facts, and worst at reaching legal conclusions based on those facts. A simple checklist would suffice, listing each of the elements of the crimes being charged (breaking them down into individual pieces where necessary), and asking whether each was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Then let the judge add them up and decide what the verdict means. Or something like that.
It does sound better. Where did the jury system come from anyway? I mean, jurors have to be laymen, right? No legal training? So who thought it was a good idea to require that of people who are then also required to interpret the law?
I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve heard that one of the purposes of the jury system is to keep the people who make the laws in check. Namely, if the laws ever start getting too far out of line with what people consider just, then juries will simply start throwing out Not Guilties for people whose punishments will outstrip the crime.
Civil cases that go to jury trial actually do work that way in some jurisdictions, I think.
I don’t understand why judges don’t just give that legal briefing at the *start* of a trial. Giving it at the end is like sticking someone in a long, boring lecture covering seven different topics and telling them at the end that only two will be covered by the test.
If there is a good reason for it, my guess is that it is to prevent jurors from listening for a few specific things and making up their minds as soon as they hear them rather than paying attention to ALL the evidence/testimony.
I’ve read a pamphlet about how it is also the jury’s right and duty to determine if a law is just, and that the jury should decide “not guilty” for laws that are unjust?
Is this an actual element of law or just some hogwash or what?
It’s called jury nullification. Some people support it, some think it has no place