Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Questions: Professional Jury System

On a long road trip, my wife and I were discussing the merits of the jury system, particularly with the seemingly cruel and unusual treatment of being a juror if you are sequestered. I would strongly favor the replacement of our current "voluntary" jury system with a professional jury system (for all court cases, not just sequestered). If I were an innocent man on trial, I would prefer to have a jury with experience and training in dealing with law and especially lawyers. Not only can jury duty ruin your life if you get into a big deal trial, but it is expensive for most people. Consider the surgeon who gives up $x,000's per day on trial, or the homemaker who has to hire sitters to replace their absence, compensated only with a few dozen dollars.

I also pose the following question: Given the choice between a year of being sequestered away from contact with the outside world or jail time, what would you choose? How much jail time would make you indifferent? I am thinking up to 1 month in a minimum security prison, provided there are no professional consequences to being a convict of this type.


Unknown said...

Minimum security resort? Shit, we should be so lucky! Do you know they have conjugal visits there?

Professional jurors is an interesting idea. I wonder how one would go about reviewing performance.

OJ Simpson prefers the current system of jury selection.

KipEsquire said...

I weighed in on this topic a long time ago. It was not warmly received in libertarian circles.

Keep in mind also that sequestration is excruciatingly rare -- practically a myth in this day and age.

Matt E. Ryan said...

It's interesting you ask that, seeing as there's a minimum security prison about two blocks from my house.

I suppose it's all in the structure of the sequestering. As an economist, I'm pretty fortunate that all I really need to do what I do is an internet connection and maybe access to EconLit. Do I have access to this as a seqestered/jailed person? When I'm sequestered, I can read about current events, just not my case, right? That shouldn't hurt me too much...and I'd still have the evenings to produce. I could think about ideas during the trial-- not unlike Friday seminars.

If you say no contact with the outside world...that might be tough for doing what I do. I'd prefer a contact-allowed, minimum security resort, Chris Rock considerations aside, for well beyond a year of isolated sequestered life.

rolub said...

I'm with Bryce and Michael Bolton.

I'll take a year of sequesteration (oh, c'mon spellcheck! how is that not a word?) over even a week in prison.

I'm no fool... I watch Lockdown on NatGeoHD.

Wild Billy Joe Jim Bob James said...

Interesting idea, I am now just starting to explore the thought myself.* My immediate questions when this struck me are:

How much should a juror make? Since there aren't any qualifications now, would there be with this system? Would there still be a jury pool? Think of the excess wages paid for that?! Where would the government find this money, which would be astronomical? And what about the witness protection program-like security layer professional jurists would require?

*FWIW, your site is the number one search result for keywords professional and jury.

Anonymous said...

I've been giving thought to this question for several years.
Ever since my last ordel sitting on a jury where I ended up being the last 'Not Guilty" hold out. All the others saw that time was getting late in the day and were switched over to the "guilty' side.
The worst offender being a gentleman who stated that "I don't really care, I just want to get out of here".
After (6) hours the judge came to see wwhere we stood, and was asked what would happen if we could not come to a desicion. His reply? "Then we'll have to waste tax payers money and come back tomorrow."
I'm sorry to say that I changed my call to guilty, but not untill I made everyone wait until the last moment. On the way home I realised that the American jury system is too flawed and needs to be revised so people are not worrying that they either need to be home or get back to work or just want to get out of it.
A professional group could be the answer I believe would allow this.

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