Hang the jury
I was recently on call for jury duty and fortunately was not called, but having worked voir dire, as jury selection is called, on numerous cases, the experience prompted me to communicate some thoughts.
Our euphemistically-named justice system begins jury selection by kidnapping prospective jurors. I don’t use the word kidnapping facetiously. The state forces prospective jurors to move from one location to another under threat of violence. According to the law, this is kidnapping. However, since this kidnapping is performed by agents of the state, it has been legalized.
Furthermore, once a jury has been seated, jurors are forced to work against their will with no power to negotiate their wages. Much like a military draft, this is a form of slavery. It’s impossible for any system that uses kidnapping and slavery – egregious injustices – to further its ends to have anything to do with justice. The state uses coercion against jurors in order to thwart justice by subjugating jurors to the state.
One of the funniest moments in voir dire is when the judge tells prospective jurors it is their duty to be jurors and work at the slave wage. Of course the judge and the prosecutor aren’t forced to work against their will for $10 a day. Despite the hypocrisy, judges and prosecutors promote this idea with straight faces.
Jurors are also chosen from the rolls of registered voters to make it more likely the jurors are familiar with the prosecutor and judge, but don’t know anyone else. Plus, registered voters tend to be more accepting of the legalized crimes of the state.
But subjugating jurors is just the beginning of how the state biases the justice system in its favor.
Imagine if you got in a dispute with Walmart. Say you slipped on a wet floor and were injured. You know you would have a tough time winning that case because Walmart has fantastic resources compared to any individual. But further imagine that when you showed up for the arbitration, the arbiter turned out to be a Walmart employee. Everybody knows that would be an outrageously unfair system. Nobody would voluntarily accept such a system because the arbiter would naturally be biased toward Walmart. It’s laughable. Yet, in a trial the judge and prosecutor work for the same organization – the state – which has even more fantastic resources than Walmart. In addition, the police, crime labs and expert witnesses all work for the state, too. Even defense attorneys often work for the state.
Plus, state agents have the awesomely corrupting power of coercion on their side. Imagine a cop doesn’t like his daughter’s boyfriend. She won’t break up with him, so he has some of his buddies arrest the boyfriend on a trumped up charge. The prosecutor brings him to trial. The prosecutor would present his elements of the crime, but he would be wrong. The jury is the only thing standing between this poor guy and prison and having his life destroyed. This isn’t an academic thought experiment. Before the jury was invented, government agents railroaded anybody they didn’t like. The jury was forced on the state by the people to protect themselves from government agents. Prosecutors and judges hate this, so they marginalize and pressure juries to rubber stamp the prosecution. It works so well the state often avoids trials by making plea deals. But the state doesn’t need the jury to convict. Juries exist to protect defendants from the state.
The question becomes how do jurors protect the defendant in a trial. They must be skeptical of the prosecutor’s case. They must make him prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the only reason to vote guilty. There are thousands of reasons to acquit. Maybe the case doesn’t pass the sniff test. Maybe a witness seemed sketchy. Maybe the case leaves open the possibility of alternative perpetrators. Maybe a juror has a gut feeling about the case.
One of the most important jobs of jurors is to evaluate the thoroughness of the investigation. For example, imagine ten witnesses witness a crime. Imagine nine of them identify person “A” as the perpetrator and the tenth identifies person “B.” If state agents only interview the tenth witness, they would prosecute the wrong person. Again, the prosecutor would present his elements of the crime, but he would be wrong. This illustrates if the prosecutor doesn’t perform a thorough investigation, it is impossible for him to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, so the jury must acquit.
Prosecutors hate this, too. Like everybody else, they want to do the least amount of work possible to achieve their goals. They hate having ignorant laymen second guessing their investigations and standing between them and a conviction that might earn them a promotion. The best prosecutors hide their frustration and patronizing attitudes toward juries well. Failure to do so costs them convictions and promotions.
Juries must also acquit if they believe a law or the application of the law is unjust, but that’s a whole article in itself.
The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes only.
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@daytoncityypaper.com