The jury system is one of our treasured Anglo-American rights. Adding common people to the judicial fact-finding process ensures that state actors do not have all the power, that the sense of the community can be expressed, and that final judgments have some legitimacy because of the infusion of a democratic sensibility into the priest-like judicial function.
Since the time of the Magna Carta, a jury is described as being of one’s peers. In other words, people from one’s community, one’s neighbors. It is supposed to represent “common sense.”
One of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence against Great Britain was “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury” and “transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.” Laws then permitted a variety of offenses against the King’s property to be tried in England, sometimes before military courts, without the benefit of a […]
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