The Instigator
WrickItRalph
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Thoht
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Trial by jury

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2019 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,579 times Debate No: 120605
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

WrickItRalph

Con

First round is for stating positions.

I believe that using untrained juries is ineffective and that we, As a society, Should used a trained alternative to juries.
Thoht

Pro

Untrained juries are effective at what they are designed to do. Represent the people. Not convict people who they have a shadow of a doubt are innocent. To say they are not, You have to have numbers that state there is another system that is superior in these regards. Judges do not represent the people, And you would have lawyers picking a choosing judges to win their cases for them. It would be a percentage game. It already is in every way judges alone are used. This makes them immediately less effective. Additionally, Jury failures can be appealed. I would be for improving the legal system to where more people had appeals or to where shadow of a doubt was emphasized more. I am for improvements. Trained juries would mean lawyers can pick juries whose positions they know ahead of time. It would be a fight over not whether a person is innocent or guilty, But it would be even more of a fight over "how well did my lawyer pick my jury? " It is to some extent already, But less than it would be in the other system. Trained juries are no different than judge rulings.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht.
Debate Round No. 1
WrickItRalph

Con

Okay, So lets say that the job of a jury is to represent the people. By this extremely loose definition, Yes juries would be effective. However, I don't think this should be the job of the jury. When a person is on trial, Their very freedom could hang in the balance. So in my mind, The most "effective" jury is the one that arrives at the correct verdict at the highest frequency possible. To take a funny but true quote from a movie "a jury consist of 12 people who weren't even smart enough to get out of jury duty" Funny but true, There is no requirements that a juror know anything about legal proceedings. Furthermore, The lawyers have a say in which jurors ultimately get selected, Which means they were selected through bias. A lawyer who wants to in their case isn't going to select the best jurors, They're going to select the jurors that win their case. A trained jury would be familiar with legal proceedings and can be rotated to different courts to eliminate bias. They could be selected by a non partisan source and we could have more confidence that they're making their verdicts based off court proceedings because they're trained to do so. In our current system, A lawyer could veto people that sympathize with the opposition and get a jury full of people who only decide on their gut instinct. You say that trained juries are no different than judge rulings. I disagree. The judge is responsible for sentencing and moderating court conduct. In fact, Anyone who's spent enough time in court knows that the judge makes every effort to allow pleas or plea bargains beforehand and only make a ruling when it's the last resort. A trained jury would not have nearly as much power as a judge. I reject that lawyers could manipulate the juries because we could constantly rotate them. Since the jurors are employees of the government, They can afford to put in more time and effort and can travel more often, Since they don't have a job to get back to. Is it a perfect solution? Probably not, But saying there's a perfect solution would be a slippery slope. The fact is, Trained juries fix most, If not all of the problems that we have with random juries. I think when a persons' freedom is on the line, That "representing the people" is not the chief concern. The chief concern is making sure the defendant receives the just verdict. Period.

Your floor.
Thoht

Pro

1. It is not an extremely loose definition. It is guaranteed by the sixth amendment with quite literal wording. Several other countries have the same thing.

The idea is that the government shouldn't be able to kill people under their authority alone, But the consent of the people as well. Trial by jury prevents the government from being the judge jury and executioner to court cases. It provides a defendant a chance if they did something that was anti-government. Judges, Being part of the government, May not be considered impartial or unbiased when it comes to these matters.

Juries are also selected, They aren't 100% random. Good lawyers can select for likely good jurors.

2. You say the definition of a good jury is the one that arrives at the correct verdict at highest frequency possible. Do you have data that supports an alternative method being superior, Or do you even have data that shows the percentage jurors 'get it wrong? '

If there is a shadow of doubt in cases, They should not prosecute. The problem with the world is there is not 100% conclusive data in many cases. Juries may be biased, But are judges any less so? Unless you have numbers on this you can't even say you have this point in your favor.

1 innocent person being jailed is far worse than some number of criminals going free, To me. Perhaps it is not to you, But I do have data that suggests judges have plenty of bias on their own. If judges have bias, Why would "trained jurors" be any different?

3. You seem to be living in a world where you can wave your hand and a 100% impartial agency could be created immune to money interests and politics that would have trained jurors immune to money and politics and it would be perfect. This is a nirvana fallacy. In reality, Corporations and rich people would have access to these people. If they were elected or around for any length of time to make "juror" a career, They would be found and backdoor deals would be made. Laws would be made to give these people favor.

This happens already in a system where there is far less access to these people and they aren't around in semi-permanent slots. There's no way for you to argue an improvement on this with semi-permanent jurors and a government agency in control. On top of that, My previous point would still stand in this case. Government would have full control and be judge, Jury, And executioner.

Jurors that travel would not follow the principle of the sixth amendment. These people would not be a jury of their peers.

4. You can argue that a different system may improve on certain problems, But you have to be a bit more specific than "fixes all or some of the problems that we currently have" while not introducing ANY of the problems that would arise because of the swapped system. This is why your argument is a nirvana fallacy. Until you acknowledge the problems and provide data for your position, You can't say that it is the correct system.

So the problems stand. You have to tell us what data you have on the efficacy of current jurors, Judges, And professional jurors. You have to tell us how your perfect agency will remain uncorrupted and your professional jurors will remain uncorrupted (problems we don't have in the current system). Without numbers, Your position is feeling-based, Not any kind of factual. You can argue that it may be true, But it would be unconvincing. At best, We could say a single state should try it. You then have to do better than "I reject that my system could become corrupted" when it comes to multi-billion dollar businesses and billionaires potentially corrupting the new jury agency when they corrupt the rest of our government easily enough.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 2
WrickItRalph

Con

"It is not an extremely loose definition. It is guaranteed by the sixth amendment with quite literal wording. Several other countries have the same thing. "

I agree that the 6th amendment gives specific definition, But the only thing that you said jurors represent the people, So your definition was loose. The 6th amendment say "an impartial jury of your peers" and then goes on to give further details. Big difference. Let me ask you, How can a jury be impartial when they're chosen by lawyers? You talk about not wanting a system controlled by the government, But lawyers work with the government. So if lawyers are selecting juries, They're not necessarily impartial are they? Nope.

You make repeated comments about judges having a potential bias. This is not germane to my position because I'm not arguing for judges handling verdicts. This is a misrepresentation of my position. Judges only job is sentencing. If a judge is biased and the jury finds a person guilty, Then the judge is free to use their bias during sentencing, Juries do not prevent this in anyway. I just want to make it clear that my position is NOT giving judges the powers of a juror.

"Juries are also selected, They aren't 100% random. Good lawyers can select for likely good jurors"

Yeah, That's the problem, If the system was actually random, I may not have the same critiques of it that I have now. Lawyers can be biased and if any potentially biased person has a hand in jury selection, That means they can select biased juries, Which flies in the face of the 6th amendment by the way. I don't think it's possible to have a courtroom full of truly impartial people, So we need to take away as much discretion as possible. The less choices that the lawyers, Judges, And juries get the better. If we applied Occam's razor to the amount of necessary discretion involved in the jury selection process, My system would be better because it requires less pieces of discretion. Trained jurors do not have to be pro government. They would be just as effective as a trained judge or a trained lawyer. If you truly want to eliminate bias, Then why not just do random judge and prosecutor selection as well? The answer that I assume most people would give is that they would be bad at their jobs right? This is the same claim I make for randomly selected juries.

"If there is a shadow of doubt in cases, They should not prosecute. "

They shouldn't, But they do, Because they're not trained. A trained jury would be better suited to realize when there is insufficient evidence in cases. In the future, Please do not compare juries to judges, As I mentioned before, Judges have a different job than juries, Only compare trained juries to random juries, Because that's the topic. Unless you're saying that the judge should have power, But that's your prerogative.

"You can argue that a different system may improve on certain problems, But you have to be a bit more specific than "fixes all or some of the problems that we currently have""

Did I say that it fixes ALL problems? If I did, Then I misspoke. It's impossible to create a "Perfect" jury obviously. I think we can both agree on that. I reject that I'm committing a nirvana fallacy, However. My system is more or less the same as the current system, With the exception that I'm removing lawyer bias by taking them out of the selection process. So unless you can show evidence that lawyer bias is a good thing, My system would be necessarily better since it's comparable to the original system in almost every other way.

". You seem to be living in a world where you can wave your hand and a 100% impartial agency could be created"

I never said this. This is a strawman of my position.

" If they were elected or around for any length of time to make "juror" a career"

That's a vacuous statement. Anyone could be bribed. So by your logic, We should just get rid of every judge, Lawyer, And politician. If you're not going to apply this to the entire justice system, Then you're not allowed to apply it to juries as well. So what's it gonna be? Are we going to get rid of the whole government? So while it's true that random or professional juries could both be influenced, The difference in my system is that the lawyers will not have the ability to hand pick the juror, Which is worse than bribery because lawyers can influence the decision without having to bribe anybody. At least in the case of a bribe, Some people would say no. If a juror is selected "randomly" they could be in on the bias without even having the chance to say no because they're unaware.

"This happens already in a system where there is far less access to these people and they aren't around in semi-permanent slots"

Far less access huh? In your system, The judge and the lawyers both have prior access to the juries beforehand. In my system, The only person that has access to them is whoever hires the jurors, Which would be a person that has no personal interest in a particular court case. So let's compare. You have 3 people with access the jury who all have agendas and I have 1 person with access who has no agenda other than hiring jurors. I think it's clear who's system REALLY allows the least access.

"my previous point would still stand in this case. Government would have full control and be judge, Jury, And executioner. "

well, The government doesn't have "full" control in either system. The government is not some mind controlling alien that gets into the heads of all their workers. Judges, Lawyers, And jurors all have their own minds an biases. The problem isn't government control, It's too much discretion. In my system, I've taken out more discretion and therefore, Mathematically decreased the amount of potential bias that could enter the system. Once again, If you're argument is government control, Then you're being vacuous and that would apply to the entire justice system. So are we back to getting rid of the whole government again?

"So the problems stand. You have to tell us what data you have on the efficacy of current jurors, Judges, And professional jurors"

This data would be unnecessary because my type of jury wouldn't function identical to a random jury after the fact. The focus of my argument is on the jury selection process. I only have to prove that my system removes bias. There is no perfect system that will stop bad verdicts. That would be a problem for a different topic.

So from what I gathered in your critiques, You seem to have the conspiracy theory going in your head that all the government agencies are just one jury selection process away from being taken over. This is a slippery slope fallacy because you can't predict that one small change would lead to a huge outcome. The fact is that if some huge entity was going to bribe and take over our whole government, Then it would happen regardless of our policies. So it's either never going to happen or it already has happened and this debate is moot. I would suggest that we avoid the slippery slope and try to talk about effects that would be within the scope of the argument, Because I think we can agree that neither one of us can see the future with our magic powers, Lol.

I'm at the floor of thoht.
Thoht

Pro

1. There probably aren't any completely impartial unbiased people out there, But no systemic change would alleviate that problem.

Lawyers on both sides agree to a jury selection. If my memory is correct, They can remove several jurors with no reason, But they can only do this so many times. Eventually a jury is agreed upon by both sides. The defense, And the prosecution.

None of these problems are alleviated with a 'professional jury. ' Someone at some agency is selecting these people, Or a board of people. Those people would have biases, Could be paid off, Et cetera to select among a group they have infinitely more information on. On top of that, Traveling professionals would not be a jury of their peers as much as people from similar states, Counties, Et cetera. If an environmental case comes up, People from that county should be on the jury, Not people from two states over.

2. The reason I bring up Judges is that they essentially are the MOST trained professionals in this field. What I envision when you say "professional jury" is a jury comprised of people who are essentially judges. That is the best possible case scenario that could happen from your stance, Am I incorrect?

If it is any less than that, There is even more likelihood they will be just as biased as others. If you can show that judges are not as biased or prejudiced as jurors, Or their rulings are more 'effective' you may have a point. If judges are as or more biased, Then you have no point and a group of judges will likely not be any better than a group of 'untrained' civilians.

3. "If the system was random. . . "

The problem is there are people who won't take jury duty seriously. There are people who can't help but give away their biases and prejudices. These are largely the people that are filtered out with this. People who won't take it seriously or will clearly vote one way or another.

The lawyers aren't exactly presented with full information on these people. The questions the potential jurors are asked are not extremely comprehensive. Many people argue that they don't do enough to prevent bias.

Not much would go to suggest we're going to find tons of professional jurors who are immune to bias and prejudice. As I say again, They're far more likely to be bought off and/or threatened by criminals than randomly selected jurors.

There's nothing wrong with random judges or random prosecutors. In the end, That's not far off from what is done. The main problem would be the public defenders are so overworked as to be less effective than the prosecution, And to push for deals far more than they perhaps should.

4. To clarify again, When I compare judges and random juries I'm doing so to give you the best possible case scenario for your position, And these are all numbers we actually have that show some judges have biases certain ways as well. These are the MOST trained people. You can't simply say "a trained jury will always be better" In theory, Perhaps, But the best trained people we have already have shown plenty of bias and problems. Why then would we assume a large number of people less trained than judges would do better? Shadow of a doubt eliminates many cases that I've seen, Do you actually have numbers to support that people convict based on too little evidence in large numbers?

One of the big problems with the world is there usually isn't 100% foolproof ways to know that a certain crime happened. Who is to judge juries on whether or not they were correct to put someone in jail that they were 99% certain should go there? Is this a fault with the jury or the prosecution, Or the evidence we allowed them to present? Shoddy drug tests are permissible in court right now that juries would convict on, That doesn't mean it is the jury's fault that they were presented and demonstrated to be valid.

5. When juries are in play expert witnesses have to be hired to help them understand everything. The judge instructs them on what must be done and what rules are to be followed. It isn't so hard of a job as to require a 4 year degree or more. The specifics of each individual case can be understood well enough on their own. You don't have to pass the BAR to understand one case. You may to understand many cases. If we were to have a professional jury they'd probably have to be lawyers. Who is paying these people? They certainly won't be paid what current juries are being paid, And we can't even demonstrate how they'd be better.

6. Someone is picking the juries. If it isn't lawyers on both sides who cancel out each other's biases it is a group of lawyers in a dark room in a government building picking which professional jurors will be on the jury. "Lawyer bias" is not eliminated here, And in fact may be increased based on the case. In a juror selection right now the defense and the prosecution both select the jury. They are both trying to win, Ideally. You can argue there are cases where they aren't but then I could argue that there are far more cases where whoever is selecting these professional jurors would be biased against or for the defendant with no clear counter. If you set up a group of lawyers to pick jurors, How is that any different from what we currently have now?

7. The judge is impartial in a case where there is a jury. He may have a bias but it hardly matters. He doesn't select the jury. So we're down to 2 biased people in my system. One of those is biased against the defense, And one is biased for. These cancel each other out. They both can throw out some jurors, They can agree to throw out jurors together, And they can accept jurors together. This is as balanced as it gets.

You, On the other hand, Are saying that 1 person will have full access to which jurors get selected for which cases. This person would presumably be a lawyer, Someone with advanced knowledge to know what cases the jurors are qualified to adjudicate. They'd know the case and they'd probably know the qualifications of jurors. Even if you gave them no information about how they ruled in the past, What their ethnicities are, What their past is, How old they are, Et cetera you'd still be picking poor juries for the cases half the time, Whereas a defense attorney will help construct a jury of his peers. A randomly selected jury could be full of white people who prosecute a black person, And the black criminal would probably appeal this citing racism and certainly get another case.

8. You think professional jurors wouldn't get complaints brought up to them by the people who are their bosses? A system that has no penalties or consequences for jurors where there aren't bosses would be disastrous, And those bosses would be subject to their own corruptions. This is government being the judge, Jury, And executioner. They already are two of these things, Why make them the third?

If we could get rid of the government then we should. Of course. Government is the necessary evil to combat anarchy. Perhaps one day we will be able to give up control to machines, But we're dealing with the cards we have. Again, I'm suggesting a system where the government is judge and executioner, You're the one suggesting it has to be all or nothing. Is that a legitimate criticism of my position?

It's similar to saying to a person who asks for only ketchup on their burger, WELL THEN CLEARLY YOU NEED MAYO AND MUSTARD TOO YOU FOOL!

It is a legitimate point to say that there ought to be a balance, A counter, To government having full control over prosecuting people.

Many people, For example, Would exonerate whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. Do you want to 100% honestly suggest that your system would lead to a professional jury that would not be pressured to convict him if the people writing their checks and determining their fates told them to convict? I don't think so.

1. Who pays for them?
2. Their bosses can pressure them.
3. The selection of them is still biased.
4. Are there enough?

May your thoughts be clear.

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 3
WrickItRalph

Con

Yes, The lawyers on both sides and the judges have a say in jury exclusion. The part where I jump off board is where they ultimately have to agree on a jury. This implies discretion and makes it highly fallible An ideal jury selection system is one that has the least discretion while also excluding as many biased parties in the selection process as possible. This is why I think my system is superior. I may be true that jury selection might ultimately come down to discretion, But in my system, The jurors are being selected by people who have no idea what case they're going to be on. You could claim that such a system would be corruptible, But the same would be true of your system, So I still win out on that front due to the lack of bias in my system. You mention professional juries not being juries of our peers. I would have to stop you right here and ask why it is necessary that the jurors be our peers? I understand this is part of the constitution, But logically speaking, When practical benefit does it offer? You made a comment about juries being trained in the same way as judges. I don't think this is necessary. Juries only need to how to vote on the evidence. Judges require much more knowledge about court proceedings that would be a waste of time to teach jurors. I think a jury of people trained to act impartially is ideal. Any problem that can be said of mine can be said of yours, But mine has an apparent benefit that yours doesn't have.

You said

"The problem is there are people who won't take jury duty seriously. There are people who can't help but give away their biases and prejudices. These are largely the people that are filtered out with this. People who won't take it seriously or will clearly vote one way or another. "

This might be true, But it's true for both of us. Both systems could have lazy or apathetic jurors and both systems can take the same measures to weed them out. Furthermore, My system doesn't select jurors randomly, So it's not filled with a lottery of people who are less likely to want to be there. The people being trained as professional jurors will be there because they want to be there.

You say that professional jurors are far more likely to be bought off? I'm gonna need you to explain this to me. Because I don't really see how it would be any easier than a regular jury. We can take all the same measures that we take I a court room, So why would they be less likely to be bribed simply because they're random?

I'm definitely not simply asserting that professional juries are better. I've given practical reasons as to why it would be justifiable to believe that this is the case. Professional juries can have all of the safety guards except for the random selection. I cannot see practical benefit in random selection. Really I'm just arguing to fix a glaring whole in the selection system. I'm not looking to overhaul the whole process.

It may not be the jury's fault per se if a bad verdict is rendered, However, People involved in the selection process bear some responsibility in the matter. If a lawyer with an agenda picks a bad juror veto simply to win their case, Then they are acting immorally in my opinion and don't deserve to practice law. A lawyer should stick up for their client, But they should do it using a good jury. Any system that allows a lawyer to exercise their agenda freely on a jury is flawed in my eyes.

I never said that jury's had to pass the bar to work. That's why I said It was unnecessary for them to have judge level training. What we need isn't highly educated juries, We need experienced juries. Anyone who studies a career and then enters it will tell you that you learn the most important parts of your specialty on the job. This applies to juries as well, Albeit on a faster time frame.

You said

"Someone is picking the juries. If it isn't lawyers on both sides who cancel out each other's biases it is a group of lawyers in a dark room in a government building picking which professional jurors will be on the jury"

I don't mean to pick at you, But this is nothing more than an appeal to fear. You SAY that the professional juries will necessarily be picked by corrupt people in a secret room, But you have no way to know that and it's far from the only possibility. There's all kinds of safeguards that can be put in place during the hiring process. Like I said, Your system would be just as fallible as mine, But mine would be more reliable since we're not selecting random citizens.

You say the judge is impartial and then turn around and say that he's really biased, But it doesn't matter. I think it does matter. Judges decide what evidence is allowed in the court room and that evidence is the only thing the jury is allowed to use to make a verdict. Judges decide sentencing after the fact. For a person who seem to fear being taken over by government control, You seem oddly un phased the concept of a judge applying their bias in the courtroom.

You said

"You, On the other hand, Are saying that 1 person will have full access to which jurors get selected for which case"

I don't really think that the jury has to necessarily be selected by one person. There are many different approaches that could be taken to the hiring process to ensure as little bias as possible. For instance, We could have between 1 to 3 people who are responsible for each respective seat on the jury. Think of them like districts. This would split the selection process so hard that nobody could every bribe an entire jury. Maybe one juror if they're infinitely lucky.

You made a comment about jurors getting complaints from people who are their bosses? They don't have to have bosses in the sense that you posit. They could have ineffectual supervisors who are only there for outsider perspective. We don't have to give any person sole hiring or firing power over them and it can be handled via committee to rule out corruption. Honestly, I think you worry about corruption too much. Not to sound dismissive, But I don't find it to be as big of a problem as you. I think corruption is stopped by improving the system, Not getting hung up over who might abuse it. Better system equals less abuse right?

I'm not sure what you mean by all or nothing. My position is one of improvement, Not replacement. I'm trying to throw the baby out with the bath water here.

"1. Who pays for them?
2. Their bosses can pressure them.
3. The selection of them is still biased.
4. Are there enough? "

The government pays in both of our systems, This is a fact. Juries don't have to have boss pressure, That's just feeding into the idea that everyone has to have a boss in the traditional sense. The selection is much less bias in my system, So that's an improvement, And I don't know what you mean by the last one.

Your floor
Thoht

Pro

I've laid out my protests:

1. Who pays for them?
2. Their bosses can pressure them.
3. The selection of them is still biased.
4. Will there be enough professional jurors?

1. Jurors nowadays are not paid much. I would be paid dirt compared to my normal hourly if I was required to do jury duty. If this was not so everyone would want to do it. You have to pay something people will be willing to dedicate their entire lives to become pro jurors for there to be anywhere near enough to cover all the court cases that happen in the US already. Your answer to this is that "They both get paid by the government. " The level of corruption is entirely different between people being paid a pittance and people doing something salaried whose entire lives are in the balance of whether or not they keep their job.

2+3. I don't know how you can pretend that you aren't falling into a nirvana fallacy when your prescription for how your system would work is so vague. "It could be between 1-3 people" and "it would be unbiased" and "They would have no information on the case itself or the jurors themselves. " You can't develop a system that actually works around these lines, And you know it. To actually make the statement that your system would be less biased than what currently happens and the balance that we currently have in jury selection, You have to actually have a system to compare it to. You're leaving your system vague. I'm throwing punches against ethereal shadows. Your system is morphing to whatever shape allows it to dodge those punches, But its lack of substance simply shows your idea isn't fully thought out well enough to actually make statements like "it eliminates bias" or "It would be more effective. "

You currently have no solid system for me to really debate against. I've presented the problems with a system of pro jurors, But you have simply declared the problems to not be so, And to in fact be superior in your system, Even though your system is not well-defined even by yourself.

I submit you can't make the statements you're making without a more solidly defined system. As such, No one should find your position convincing for the sake of this debate. You may create a solid system and you may indeed win a debate along these lines in the future, But currently the judges should be able to see that a vague concept of a system can always be conceived to be flawless since its definition can shift whenever it likes, But once you actually pin down any numbers to a solid consistent system the flaws become clear. Your system then is unconvincing. I could present you a hundred similarly vague systemic changes if you'd like and you'd declare the flaws with them immediately and I'd shadowbox my way out of them and you would not find it convincing. I'm uncertain why you expect a suggestion to replace a solid system with a system that has no substance to be convincing to the judges or myself.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by WrickItRalph 3 years ago
WrickItRalph
@Thoht. I'm enjoying the debate so far. I'm always happy to disagree as long as my opponent and I don't talk passed each other, Lol.
Posted by Speedrace 3 years ago
Speedrace
Wish I could accept :/
No votes have been placed for this debate.

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