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Author Topic: Jury Duty No More
WarrsawPact
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This was crazy for me. My mom was just called up for jury duty, and we talked about how ridiculously inadequate the compensation for it was, and then I went into this little spiel about how the whole system's messed up. I came up with this idea on the fly.

Here was our IM conversation:

HER: hey, before I forget, I got my jury duty pay last night.
HER: $74.96 (including mileage) for 5 days work.
ME: *joy*
HER: and i'm gonna be 1099d for it.
ME: ... [Frown]
ME: involuntary servce to the state
ME: gotta love "civic duty"
HER: it's almost an insult, that check.
ME: not "almost" mom
ME: it is
ME: that doesn't even sound like minimum wage
ME: esp. once you count in mileage
ME: $74.96/5 = ~$15
ME: $15/$6.75 = not even 2.5 hours a day
HER: it isn't. it's $15 a day for 6 hrs. work and $0.14 a mile
ME: !!!!
ME: wow.
ME: involuntary servce to the state. no fair compensation. gotta love it
HER: You don't get paid for the first day.
ME: ... sigh.
ME: we should set a wage and have people apply to be jurors
ME: to make it worth their time, they'll have to raise or lower wages accordingly, and no one's job will be disrupted
ME: and people with higher qualifications could bargain for higher wages
ME: like, people with experience in the law
ME: i mean, how much is rea justice worth to us?
ME: and why are we disrupting productive work
HER: I guess you stand the chance of 1) people milking the system by stretching the deliberation process out and, 2) people applying to be jurors for friends' court cases, and 3) people becoming so jaded by their accumulated jury experience that they don't take a "fresh look" at the evidence as presented and instead pre-judge cases.
ME: that system doesn't seem as bad to me as what we curretly have, and people can be taken off the jury for conflict of interest
HER: that's true only if someone (other than the 2 parties involved) knows that the conflict of interest exists.
ME: well, you'd apply to be a juror, doesn't mean you'd apply for a specific case
HER: No, but if you timed it right in a court like Malibu, chances are you'd be selected for your target case.
ME: hm, maybe have a two-month waiting period
ME: somethin like that
ME: like, "you're hired. fill out these forms and we'll process you in the next several weeks."
HER: That sounds like about the right pace for the system anyway. But I'm sure there are reasons why it's done the way it's done.
ME: don't be so sure
ME: that the current reasons outweigh a better potential system
ME: the prmary benefit of the current system seems to be that you can get away with paying people next to nothing
ME: and if they complain, the state can punish them.
HER: if they fail to show up, the state can throw them in jail.
ME: under my system, there'd be no involuntary service. the justice system would actually have to treat people with dignity
ME: exactly

So what do I see within the next day or two? A brand new Tech Central Station article about (what else?) professionalizing juries.

Read it.

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Joe Schmoe
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The idea of pro jurors is pretty scary in some aspects, but then again, so is the current system. If it were done right I might be willing to vote for that. But when was the last time the government did something right? [Razz]

If you can come up with some good solutions to the basic problems of corruption and impartiality you'd have a good start. Both are pretty big issues, and there are probably other things that would have to be looked at as well.

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Dave at Work
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Thinking back, I don't believe that I ever recieved my check for jury duty back in 2001. What's worse is that I was an hourly employee at the time so I had to either burn vacation time, go without pay for the two weeks I was on Jury duty, or work some hours in the evenings to get some hours on my paycheck. I'll have to go back through my bank statements for the time period to see if I deposited a check for a pittance or not.
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LetterRip
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Hm Pro Jurors is an idea I've thought of before. It is scary that TCS is promoting the same idea, this suggests that there is some benefit whoever the are lobbying for can derive from it. (For those who are unaware TCS is run by a lobbying firm...)

Regarding involuntary service to the state - it is part of your contract as a citizen.

Regarding CSI - the standard is 'beyond a reasonable doubt' just because historically the jury was aware of far less grounds for a reasonable doubt - doesn't mean they are wrong not to convict now.

quote:
One noteworthy story in the article describes how a jury acquitted a man of murder, even though the victim's daughter positively identified him.
First was that the only basis to convict? And under what circumstances did she identify him?

If her testimony is the sole basis and the especially if her testimony was under any sort of situation that can distort her recall, then reasonable doubt would be easy to establish.

quote:
And CSI has led people to believe that they need forensic evidence in order to convict.
Jurys generally should require forensic evidence to convict unless their is substantial eyewitness testimony.

quote:
If you were on trial for murder -- or subject to a lawsuit that could deprive you of your freedom or of all your assets -- would you really want your fate to be decided by 12 people literally picked at random from off the street?
Except it isn't since prosecutor and defense can reject jurors both with and without cause.

One major improvement to jurys would be the allowing of jurys to take notes, and to record the proceedings including the witnesses, prosecution and defense, and/or access to the court recorders notes.

Another improvement would be to have jury pools truly randomly selected, so that a prosecution and defense can only reject the entire pool, which would prevent a lot of the problems with the current system.

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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quote:
Thinking back, I don't believe that I ever recieved my check for jury duty back in 2001. What's worse is that I was an hourly employee at the time so I had to either burn vacation time, go without pay for the two weeks I was on Jury duty, or work some hours in the evenings to get some hours on my paycheck. I'll have to go back through my bank statements for the time period to see if I deposited a check for a pittance or not.
Hmmm, should businesses have to compensate while their employees are doing jury duty? I wonder what percentage of cases are corporate.

The pay system is grossly unfair regardless of any other pluses and minuses.

LetterRip

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A. Alzabo
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LR,
I like your suggestions. I'd like to see some kind of "juror training" offerred that occurred before trials, rather than just the instructions given to the jury in real-time.

On the other hand, I think the compensation is pretty lousy compared to the hardship of jury duty in a lot of cases -- I wouldn't be averse to changing that (Of course, money ain't free..).

But if we're going to scrap the present jury system, I'd rather just go with panels of judges like some other countries do than to "privatize" the jury system.

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Tezcatlipoca
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Here is a question for you. There are professional lawyers that get payed thousands upon thousands of dollars. Why is it that they get paid so much, yet jurors get payed nothing?

The jurors have to be in that courtroom just as long as the lawyers do. How about a judge? How much does he get paid?

What about the police officers and recorders?

Would it be un-fair to ask to be paid as much as say the recorder does? Or do they work for $5 a day as well (gas included of course [Roll Eyes] )?

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The Drake
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Consider it another tax. What do you want them to do, raise taxes which they can then pay back to you when you serve on a jury?

Some people propose that this be "hidden" by just forcing the juror's employer to pay the employee for jury duty [Frown]

This is law in New York State, at least for poor employees.

quote:
An employer of ten or more employees must pay to an employee serving on jury duty the first $40.00 of that employee’s daily wage for the first three days of jury service. An employee who gives notice to his employer that he has been summoned for jury service may not be discharged or otherwise penalized by the employer on account of such service.
Sneaky. but not as sneaky as this bill passed by the CA legislature, vetoed by the Governor.

quote:
SB 874, Romero Public contracts.
Existing law authorizes the Department of General Services to
contract with suppliers to acquire goods and services for state
agencies.
This bill would prohibit a state agency from entering into a
contract for the acquisition of goods or services with a contractor,
as defined, who does not have and adhere to a written policy annually
providing his or her full-time employees, as defined, with not less
than 5 days of regular pay for actual jury service.

Careful what you wish for. Of course, a lot of people think that businesses can face increased cost without any impact on "regular people".
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WarrsawPact
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... which is exactly why I think jury "duty" should be voluntary and have appropriate compensation. Those who are better informed about the legal process, forensics and so forth could make better (or at least better informed) decisions. And businesses wouldn't lose employees for stretches of time... and employees wouldn't lose all that pay. No need to send out all those summons.

Yes, the costs in the court system would rise. Yes, that would come out in taxes anyway. But it'd be a damn sight better than what we have now.

[ February 13, 2006, 08:46 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Jesse
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LR-I've only served on a civil case, but we were encouraged to take notes, given a note pad and pencil.

The case based on the testimony of one eye witness? How many rape cases in which the victim herself positively IDed the suspect have been overturned on DNA evidence in the last ten years? You're right, out of context, it's meaningless...and may in fact mean that the jury system worked in this case.


WP- I have a right to be tried by a jury of my peers, not experts in the law. We've got enough of those in the court room already. While I agree that we would get a better jury pool if we compensated people appropriately,I don't think a system in which people applied for a government job as "Juror" would improve the situation.

Civil service exams sure don't seem to create a pool of competent letter carriers.

Trust in the justice system is essential, and one of the things that helps to maintain that trust is that a citizen knows that if they face criminal charges, they can't be convicted unless a group of people, average americans, just like their friends and neighbors, can be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that they commited a crime.

It isn't perfect, by a long shot, but it's better than a system in which todays juror might be pressured to make a certain decision rather than lose their job, or in which a lawyer can keep records about which jurors tend to side with the defense, or in which long standing relationships between jurors can lead to alliances and factioning. As flawed as our system is currently, yours would be worse in countless ways.

That being said, yes, compensation should be at least 80-100 dollars a day in CA.

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KnightEnder
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Commit a felony or two, then you never have to serve. [Smile]

KE

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Tezcatlipoca
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quote:
Commit a felony or two, then you never have to serve.
You mean get caught committing a felony or two, and you never have to serve is what you should say.

For those of us who are good enough not to get caught, it doesn't help the problem. Got any better suggestions KE? [Smile]

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Jesse
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Renounce your citizenship, then try to get a work visa so you can come back.
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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Hmmm, should businesses have to compensate while their employees are doing jury duty? I wonder what percentage of cases are corporate.

The pay system is grossly unfair regardless of any other pluses and minuses.

It must work differently from state to state. In my state, your employer is required by law to pay you your normal wages while gone, minus any state compensation you receive.
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The Drake
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Give me a military tribunal any day. [Smile]

And I generally feel about jury duty the way I do about military duty - in a free society, nobody should be able to tell you where you have to show up and how much you're going to get paid under penalty of imprisonment if you fail to serve.

My own experience with jury duty angered me. Called into Superior Court for duty, watch a video on "what it means to be a citizen", fight morning traffic, pay for parking, wait around reading a book for 3 hours, sent home. There were a minimum of 30-50 of us in the same situation.

That's some piss-poor logistics, based on the fact that the government doesn't have to care if they are wasting your time when they're not paying you for it.

Next time, I'll be sure to duck it - I had about eight ways to avoid serving that I could have used.

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Dave at Work
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Well, I went through my records for that time period, and it looks like I actually got a normal paycheck for the pay period. I must have had a project that I had to get some work done on since I distinctly remember going into the office most evenings for a few hours after Jury duty. In any case, I haven't found evidence for a deposit of a pitance for Jury duty. I wonder if the county is still holding my check?
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Eric
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I don't think the money one gets for jury duty is supposed to be salary, per se, but more to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling to and from.

Professional jurors? And who would make up that profession most? Law school washouts? *shudder*

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The Drake
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The Pro Jurors could just be part of the DA's office [Big Grin]
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Ivan
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Yeah, this bit about it not being voluntary is hooey. If you're a citizen, you agree to pay taxes, abide by the laws, etc., and part of that "etc." is to serve on a jury if you're selected.

Also, when did a bunch of professional jurrists become my "peers"? Seems like by setting any qualifications (outside of felony convictions, etc.) to be on a jury you're limiting the pool and possibly zeroing out my "peers".

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Ivan
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Heck, that's why it's called "jury DUTY" rather than "jury option" or something else silly like that.
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The Drake
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If a jury of "my peers" means a bunch of random deadbeats who can't figure out how to avoid jury duty - or who have such a stiffy for handing out justice that they prefer to sit on a jury - I'd like to waive my right to a jury trial and have the judge hand down a decision. Bench trial for me.

Juries are just as likely to convict (or acquit) on histrionics, emotional appeals and innuendo as they are on the facts - perhaps more so.

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Mormegil
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quote:
Regarding involuntary service to the state - it is part of your contract as a citizen.
Prove it.
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WarrsawPact
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quote:
Professional jurors? And who would make up that profession most? Law school washouts? *shudder*
Even a law school washout would be better informed than the average bum on the street.

But anyone with experience in the sciences (especially forensics), law, law enforcement, and so on would be preferable. Heck, the hiring process could include testing. Those who showed the best understanding of what goes down in courts would be more likely to be hired and more likely to be paid more.

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
Yeah, this bit about it not being voluntary is hooey. If you're a citizen, you agree to pay taxes, abide by the laws, etc., and part of that "etc." is to serve on a jury if you're selected.
Really... that's in the Constitution?

Or could we a bit more flexible on this kind of thing?

quote:
Also, when did a bunch of professional jurrists become my "peers"? Seems like by setting any qualifications (outside of felony convictions, etc.) to be on a jury you're limiting the pool and possibly zeroing out my "peers".
Who said you had a right to a jury by "your peers"?
Things that are not in the U.S. Constitution: Jury of Peers

The jury must be impartial, and it must be in the state in which the crime was committed. That's it.

quote:
Heck, that's why it's called "jury DUTY" rather than "jury option" or something else silly like that.
So, because they call it jury duty, it's a citizen's duty?
It's only a "duty" because that's the way the states are currently doing it.

Just like voting might be a "civic duty" but is not compulsory.

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The Drake
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"Jury of your Peers" comes from the Magna Carta (1215), which the rebelling colonists definitely considered a right.

quote:
The colonists rebelled against such control over their daily affairs. Their own elected legislative bodies had not been asked to consent to the Stamp Act. The colonists argued that without either this local consent or direct representation in Parliament, the act was "taxation without representation." They also objected to the law's provision that those who disobeyed could be tried in admiralty courts without a jury of their peers. Coke's influence on Americans showed clearly when the Massachusetts Assembly reacted by declaring the Stamp Act "against the Magna Carta and the natural rights of Englishmen, and therefore, according to Lord Coke, null and void."
quote:
The jury system came to be regarded as symbolic of the colonies’ eventual struggle for democracy and freedom as against the authority of the English Crown. This was initially dramatized in 1735 in the famous libel trial the printer John Peter Dzenger who had written about the royal governor of new York. Zenger was acquitted by a jury of his peers who felt he had written the truth. As the colonies when down the road toward an open break with England, "The First Continental Congress (October 1774) declared–that the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially, to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according the course of law."


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WarrsawPact
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quote:
"The First Continental Congress (October 1774) declared–that the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially, to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according the course of law."
Read this.

[ February 14, 2006, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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The Drake
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I'm not going to argue legal semantics. Not to mention that each of the 50 states has relevant law that I'm not going to research.

But do note that they only did not include an express guarantee. And this phrase is in there also:

quote:
Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.



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WarrsawPact
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... and there's an argument to be made that any "right" that requires denying rights to others is null and void as a "positive right." You can't have maximized positive rights, so clearly the 9th Amendment means negative rights.

And if it's a matter of individual state laws, then there's no reason it can't be changed.

[ February 14, 2006, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Richard Dey
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I don't think we should be paid for jury duty at all; on the other hand, we should be able to sue lawyers who drag out trials.
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LetterRip
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quote:
But anyone with experience in the sciences (especially forensics), law, law enforcement, and so on would be preferable. Heck, the hiring process could include testing. Those who showed the best understanding of what goes down in courts would be more likely to be hired and more likely to be paid more.
Part of the problem I see is that most people with a bit of understanding in those fields believe themselves far more knowledgable than they actually are. A lot of them are also very susceptible to flattery about their intelligence/knowledgability.

Another issue is that it would largely exclude certain social strata, backgrounds, and types of life experience.

Personally I'd prefer that the professional jurors be specifically selected from an extremely diverse set of backgrounds, and then they can be taught some of that which they need to know.

Another issue is that I think a problem of jury cynicism could easily occur where it would be very difficult to get a fair trial due to the jurys past experiences. Another issue is that jurors could develop long standing biases for or against particular judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys - also the constant exposure means that it will be possible to much better manipulate jurors since a) they will be far easier to do extensive background research on b) a history of what arguements they are biased to accept or reject can be accumulated and numerous other items.

LetterRip

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KnightEnder
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Tez, get drunk while committing the felony? So drunk you CAN't leave the crime scene! (I didn't want to add drinking and driving to the tab.)

Not that I really recomend it. I'm just trying to find a bright spot in losing $20,k, countless jobs, my self respect (for awhile), and ten days of freedom. I guess I'm an optimist!

KE

[ February 14, 2006, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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WarrsawPact
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And now another guy at TCS writes an article arguing against the original TCS article.
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Ivan
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Thanks for the link. I pretty much agree with Mr. Kern. I especially like the idea of letting peoplve volunteer for jury duty at a convinient time for them. I mean, let people volunteer for a date (make it at least a year in advance or something to ensure that they aren't able to get on a trial of someone they know perhaps?) and consider their duty "fulfilled" for the next 10, 20, however many years.
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sbkilb
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How about,
Pay the juror lost wages after taxes, call it court fees and make the looser of the case pay

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Hannibal
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you know, in some countries, there arent jurors at all.

in israel for instance, there are 3 levels of court.

at the lowest (Mishpat Hashalom) level there is one judge in a trial, he decides alone
in the medium level (Mishpat Mechozi), there are three judges for a trial
and in the high court(Baga"tz), there are 5, 7 or even 11 judges for a trial depending how grave the situation is

who is more qualified to decide on issues, then a judge itself?

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LoverOfJoy
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And if you're a palestinian and all those judges aren't, how likely are you to feel like you got a fair trial? I'm not even saying that it would necessarily be an unfair trial, but that it could be perceived that way.
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LetterRip
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A big downside with judges is that they are going to be much more likely to come from similar social backgrounds - middle class male; have the same cynicism problem given earlier; probably be more cynical about what constitutes a reasonable doubt. On the positive side they will be far less likely to be susceptible to lawyers playing mind games and are more likely to understand the evidence presented to them.

LetterRip

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Hannibal
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Lover, a palestinian is not an israeli citizen, we all know how *kindly* the USA treats non citizens.
and still many palestinians apeal the high court (every one can apeal the high court) and many of them succeed, many of them also fail, but palestinians know that they can go to our high court.


LetterRip, in israel, there is a judge assigning commitie, made out of 2 knesset members from each party and 2 judges from the supreme court, they decide who becomes judge. in israel, there are women judges, arab judges, and white male judges.

because each party has only 2 members, and the judges have only two members from the supreme court, its almost impossible to politcally assign judges.

and judges in israel, vary in their points of view.

[ March 02, 2006, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: Hannibal ]

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Jesse
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Hannibal, I don't think you do know how kindly we treat non-citizens who are here legally.

With a few exceptions of paranoid behavior, (see: post pearl harbor, post 9/11) we give those who are here legally almost the same legal protections as citizens.

Those who are here illegally, we generally just deport.

I'm as outraged as anyone (ok, maybe not as outraged as the people actually locked up..but still plenty pissed off) about the abuses of the last several years...most of which took place within a year after the attacks...but it sure isn't reflective of the way we generally treat non-citizens.

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Hannibal
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we also treat non citizens very kindly.


i was angered about the "what if you are a palestinian" snide remark. as if the entire israeli justice system is based so palestinians will not have fair trials.

judges in israel give allegedly fair trials to anyone. i am pretty sure that some one who is in war with israel for 50 years will not feel he is having a fair trial, even though he will.
i am sure those guys at the nurenberg trials felt like they are having a fair trial

what if you are Muhamad Atta? whould you feel like having a fair trial in the states?

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