Abolish the Jury System

Abolish the jury system; juries are uneducated, biased, corruptible, unfair, and have a history of not only being racist, but making the wrong decision as well. Instead of selecting twelve, random people, let’s select twelve, qualified judges.

Most Countries Don’t Use Juries

Juries are a staple of the American legal system, but are notably absent in the vast majority of countries. Commit a crime in Germany or India, and you won’t be put before a jury of your peers.

Why is this? Is America right to cling onto a medieval invention, or does the rest of the world have a point when they say the jury system is archaic and unfair? I beg the latter. Let’s join the rest of the world and abolish the jury system.

Juries are Uneducated

The chances of one juror, let alone the entire jury, being well-educated in the law are next to none. Most of them have probably never read a single statute, and likely have legal misconceptions, such as the non-existent law that undercover police officers have to tell you they’re a cop.

Yes, jurors are told about the relevant statutes, but even then: they’re usually written in a way that’s hard to understand for most people, and some terms have different meanings in a legal context. You can explain this, but it’ll be a waste of time, and they still might not understand.

If we selected a panel of judges: they’d all be well-educated in the law, because that’s literally their job; we can even require that they pass a test or have served a certain number of years.

Wouldn’t you prefer if the people deciding if you paid a hefty fine or went to prison actually knew what the law was? I sure do!

Juries can be Biased, Racist, and Wrong

Life in Prison for Being Black

In In 1976, Ronnie Long, a black man, was sentenced to life in prison by an all-white jury for a rape he didn’t commit. Every witness for the prosecution was white, and it was later proven the police hid evidence of his innocence. Long was released, forty-four years later, after a long- and hard-fought campaign by civil rights leaders and local officials.

This is hardly an unusual case to anyone familiar with the history of the Jim Crow era. Juries can be, and have been, biased, racist, and unfair.

You could select jurors based on race, but then you end up with the possibility of an all-black jury acquitting an African-American man of a crime he clearly committed. Furthermore, it would constitute racial discrimination.

Yes, judges can be racist too, but I doubt they’d win an election or be appointed if they expressed such views. Perhaps in 1976, but not today.

Acquitted on Account of Race

Remember how I said India doesn’t use the jury system? There’s a good reason for that. In 1959, Kawas Nanavati, an ethnic Parsi, returned home from the Indian navy to discover his wife had cheated on him with a man named Prem Ahuja, an ethnic Sindhi, who he shot and killed before turning himself in.

The Parsi community rallied behind Nanavati, claiming the murder was an “honor killing” and that he should be acquitted, while the Sindhi community demanded he be convicted for murder.

The jury found him not guilty, despite ample evidence to the contrary — and the fact he literally turned himself in. I’ve heard rumors the jury was entirely Parsi, but can’t find any reliable sources for that claim.

This is often incorrectly cited as the “last jury trial in India” — and although this claim is false, it was definitely a major factor that led to public opinion turning against the institution.

Bad People

What if a pedophile was put on the jury for a child molestation case — or any case, for that matter? Would you trust that person to make the right decision? I most certainly wouldn’t!

What about a drug addict? What if one of the people deciding whether or not you went to prison shot up meth before the trial and was high the entire time?

What if a juror was later convicted of drug dealing, murder, rape, or another crime? How would you feel about the case they decided? How many of these people served on juries, but where never caught because they weren’t in the public eye?

Judges can commit crimes too, but they’re in the public spotlight, thus less likely to do so, and more likely to be caught.

The Jury System can be Corrupted

Back in 2018, six people were arrested for attempting to bribe a juror into giving a not guilty vote in regards to a double-murder trial. Thankfully, the juror reported it to the police, but what if they didn’t? How many jurors have been bribed that we’ll never know about?

Not only can they be bribed, but they can be threatened — and even murderd if they vote the wrong way. And what happens when the people choosing the jurors is corrupt?

Judges can be bribed, threatened, and murdered too, but it’s a lot harder than getting Joe Schmo to go along with it, especially if it’s a minor crime where he can lie to himself and pretend like there wasn’t no harm.

No, It Won’t Give the Government Too Much Power

Critics may claim that abolishing the jury system would give the government, and especially judges, too much power.

The obvious counter-argument is that the government writes the laws in the first place, and judges are literally part of the branch of government tasked with determining if a law was broken.

This would be like trying to argue allowing police officers to make arrests or legislators to write laws gives them too much power. Yes, it gives them power, but not too much.

If you believe a law goes too far: look at the legislative branch, not the judiciary. Furthermore, a lot of the people making this argument are perfectly fine with Roe v. Wade, even though SCOTUS doesn’t have the power to overturn state laws.

That’s more of a threat to our democracy than getting rid of a broken system created long before it became common-place for the People to elect their leaders. Judges wouldn’t suddenly be able to decide if a law passed by an elected legislature gets to exist or not, which is literally what judicial review is.

Conclusion

The jury system should be abolished in favor of a panel of judges. Jurors can be uneducated, biased, racist, unfair, and corrupt, and therefore cannot be trusted to decide criminal cases. Judges, on the other hand, are well-educated in the law, and more likely to be exposed for unethical behavior. This isn’t a usurpation of democracy, unlike judicial review, since judges wouldn’t get to pick and choose which laws go into effect.

View Sources

Harmeet Kaur and Amanda Watts. “A Black man is freed from prison 44 years after he was wrongly convicted of rape”. CNN, 28 Aug. 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/28/us/ronnie-long-nc-wrongful-conviction-trnd/index.html.

James Jaffe. “‘Not The Right People’: Why Jury Trials were Abolished in India”. Socio-Legal Review, 1 Oct. 2020, https://www.sociolegalreview.com/post/not-the-right-people-why-jury-trials-were-abolished-in-india.

Lawjure. “http://www.lawjure.com/case-analysis-k-m-nanavati-v-state-of-maharashtra/”. Lawjure, 8 Jan. 2021, http://www.lawjure.com/case-analysis-k-m-nanavati-v-state-of-maharashtra/.

Sarah Fili. “Six people arrested in jury tampering case”. KETV 7, 10 May, 2018, https://www.ketv.com/article/mistrial-declared-in-double-murder-case-after-improper-juror-contact/20533630.


Share