No matter what one thinks of "tort reform," the political term often used to describe laws to weaken this system, one thing is clear:
FOR more than six hundred years - that is, since Magna Carta, in Trial by jury indispensable or romanticised there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries Trial by jury indispensable or romanticised judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.
Unless such be the right and duty of jurors, it is plain that, instead of juries being a "palladium of liberty "- a barrier against the tyranny and oppression of the government - they are really mere tools in its hands, for carrying into execution any injustice and oppression it may desire to have executed.
But for their right to judge of the law, and the justice of the law, juries would be no protection to an accused person, even as to matters of fact; for, if the government can dictate to a jury any law whatever, in a criminal case, it can certainly dictate to them the laws of evidence.
That is, it can dictate what evidence is admissible, and what inadmissible, and also what force or weight is to be given to the evidence admitted.
And if the government can thus dictate to a jury the laws of evidence, it can not only make it necessary for them to convict on a partial exhibition of the evidence rightfully pertaining to the case, but it can even require them to convict on any evidence whatever that it pleases to offer them.
It was anciently called "trial per pais" - that is, "trial by the country. In order to effect this end, it is indispensable that the people, or "the country," judge of and determine their own liberties against the government; instead of the government's judging of and determining its own powers over the people.
How is it possible that juries can do anything to protect the liberties of the people against the government, if they are not allowed to determine what those liberties are? Any government, that is its own judge of, and determines authoritatively for the people, what are its own powers over the people, is an absolute government of course.
It has all the powers that it chooses to exercise. There is no other - or at least no more accurate - definition of a despotism than this. On the other hand, any people, that judge of, and determine authoritatively for the government, what are their own liberties against the government, of course retain all the liberties they wish to enjoy.
And this is freedom. At least, it is freedom to them; because, although it may be theoretically imperfect, it, nevertheless, corresponds to their highest notions of freedom. It is supposed that, if twelve men be taken, by lot, from the mass of the people, without the possibility of any previous knowledge, choice, or selection of them, on the part of the government, the jury will be a fair epitome of "the country" at large, and not merely of the party or faction that sustain the measures of the government; that substantially all classes of opinions, prevailing among the people, will be represented in the jury; and especially that the opponents of the government, if the government have any opponents, will be represented there, as well as its friends; that the classes, who are oppressed by the laws of the government, if any are thus oppressed, will have their representatives in the jury, as well as those classes, who take sides with the oppressor - that is, with the government.
It is fairly presumable that such a tribunal will agree to no conviction except such as substantially the whole country would agree to, if they were present, taking part in the trial. A trial by such a tribunal is, therefore, in effect, "a trial by the country.
The government can enforce none of its laws, by punishing offenders, through the verdicts of juries, except such as substantially the whole people wish to have enforced.
The government, therefore, consistently with the trial by jury, can exercise no powers over the people, or, what is the same thing, over the accused person, who represents the rights of the people, except such as substantially the whole people of the country consent that it may exercise.
In such a trial, therefore, "the country," or the people, judge of and determine their own liberties against the government, instead of thegovernment's judging of and determining its own powers over the people. If the government may decide who may, and who may not, be jurors, it will of course select only its partisans, and those friendly to its measures.
It may not only prescribe who may, and who may not, be eligible to be drawn as jurors; but it may also question each person drawn as a juror, as to his sentiments in regard to the particular law involved in each trial, before suffering him to be sworn on the panel; and exclude him if he be found unfavorable to the maintenance of such a law.
And the standard, thus dictated by the government, becomes the measure of the people's liberties. If the government dictate the standard of trial, it of course dictates the results of the trial.
And such a trial is no trial by the country, but only a trial by the government; and in it the government determines what are its own powers over the people, instead of the people's determining what are their own liberties against the government.
In short, if the jury have no right to judge of the justice of a law of the government, they plainly can do nothing to protect the people against the oppressions of the government; for there are no oppressions which the government may not authorize by law.
The jury are also to judge whether the laws are rightly expounded to them by the court.
A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a lawful proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge or panel of judges makes all decisions. Jury trials are used in a significant share of serious criminal cases in almost all common law lawful systems. In England, trial by jury has always been a part of our legal justice system, yet its functions have been criticised and supported through academic and public debate. The question is whether trial by jury is vital in our criminal justice system or merely a romanticised ideology that does no. The right to a trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers is one of the hallmarks of the American judicial system. As a prospective juror, you are a crucial and indispensable part of this process.
Unless they judge on this point, they do nothing to protect their liberties against the oppressions that are capable of being practiced under cover of a corrupt exposition of the laws. If the judiciary can authoritatively dictate to a jury any exposition of the law, they can dictate to them the law itself, and such laws as they please; because laws are, in practice, one thing or another, according as they are expounded.
Unless they judge on this point, the people are liable to have their liberties taken from them by brute force, without any law at all. The jury must also judge of the laws of evidence.
If the government can dictate to a jury the laws of evidence, it can not only shut out any evidence it pleases, tending to vindicate the accused, but it can require that any evidence whatever, that it pleases to offer, be held as conclusive proof of any offence whatever which the government chooses to allege.
It is manifest, therefore, that the jury must judge of and try the whole case, and every part and parcel of the case, free of any dictation or authority on the part of the government. They must judge of the existence of the law; of the true exposition of the law; of the justice of the law; and of the admissibility and weight of all the evidence offered; otherwise the government will have everything its own way; the jury will be mere puppets in the hands of the government: The question, then, between trial by jury, as thus described, and trial by the government, is simply a question between liberty and despotism.
The authority to judge what are the powers of the government, and what the liberties of the people, must necessarily be vested in one or the other of the parties themselves - the government, or the people; because there is no third party to whom it can be entrusted.What is the importance of jury trial?
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1 C HAPTE R I. The Right of Juries evident when it is considered what the trial by jury is, and what is its object.
“The trial by jury,” then, is a “trial by the country” – that is, by the people – as distinguished from a trial it is indispensable that the people, or “the country. Jan 21, · Respecting the Seventh Amendment. one that was indispensable.
The right to civil jury trial was a key issue over which the American Revolution was fought.
The excellent order of trial by jury carries a much greater preponderation to discover the truth than any other trial whatsoever.* — Matthew Hale, Chief Justice of the King's Bench () In the whole practice of law, there is nothing of greater. There are three types of juries in the United States: criminal grand juries, criminal petit juries, and civil juries.
No jury trial is required, however, when the maximum sentence is six months in jail, a fine not to exceed $1,, a day driver's license suspension, and attendance at .
The right to a trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers is one of the hallmarks of the American judicial system. As a prospective juror, you are a crucial and indispensable part of this process.