Debates

Justice

Curator: 
Debate ID: 
286
Bibliography: 
<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1979.tb01567.x/abstract"> Baldwin, John and Michael McConville. Jury Trials. Oxford: Claredon Press. 1979.</a></br><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13751454"> BBC. "Juror Admits Contempt of Court Over Facebook Contact." BBC. 14 June 2011.Accessed 29 August 2011. </a></br> <a href="http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article995775.ece">Blom-Cooper, Louis. "A Judge Can Do the Work of 12 Amateurs, and Better." The Times. 21 October 2003. Accessed 29 August 2011. </a></br> <a href="http://www.peterjepson.com/law/The%20debate%20behind%20holding%20a%20criminal%20trial%20without%20jury.pdf">Coleman, Clive. "Debating Non-Jury Criminal Trial." BBC News. 12 January 2010. </a></br><a href="http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2429&context=flr&sei-redir=1#search=%22what%20petty%20offense%20usa%20trial%20by%20jury%22"> Connolly, Robert P. "The Petty Offense Exception and the Right to a Jury Trial." Fordham Law Review. Vol. 49 Issue 2. 1980. </a></br> <a href="http://cisac.stanford.edu/publications/terrorism_and_trial_by_jury_the_vices_and_virtues_of_british_and_american_criminal_law"> Donohue, Laura K. "Terrorism and Trial by Jury: The Vices and Virtues of British and American Criminal Law." Stanford Law Review. Vol. 59. March 2007.</a></br> <a href="http://www.sunypress.edu/p-3818-race-in-the-jury-box.aspx">Fukarai, Hiroshi and Richard Krooth. Race in the Jury Box. New York: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies. August 2003. First chapter available here (and reference is from that chapter): </a></br> <a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism-rule/"> Hooker, Brad. "Rule Consequentialism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 9 January 2008. Accessed 29 August 2011.</a></br> <a href="https://litigation-essentials.lexisnexis.com/webcd/app?action=DocumentDisplay&crawlid=1&srctype=smi&srcid=3B15&doctype=cite&docid=82+Va.+L.+Rev.+253&key=00e2430942ecc0b886ef7f5b94dc761d"> Leipold, Andrew D. "Rethinking Jury Nullification." Virginia Law Review. March, 1996.</a></br> <a href="http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html"> Linder, Doug. "Jury Nullification." University of Missouri-Kansas School of Law. 2001. Accessed 29 August 2011.</a></br> <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/bostonda/etc/stats.html"> PBS. "Stats & Facts: Prosecutors, Indigent Defense Attorneys and State Criminal Courts." PBS.Accessed 29 August 2011.</a></br> <a href="http://www.andrewdstine.com/blog-78/post-361-can-a-judge-overturn-a-jury-verdict.aspx"> Stine, Andrew D. "Can A Judge Overturn a Jury Verdict?" 1 July 2011. Accessed 29 August 2011.</a></br><a href="http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/are-juries-fair-research.pdf">Thomas, Cheryl. "Are Juries Fair?" Ministry of Justice. Research Series 1/10. February 2010. </a></br> <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/nov/08/ukcrime.jurytrials?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487"> Travis, Alan. "New Threat to Trial by Jury." The Guardian. 8 November 2002. Accessed 29 August 2011.</a></br> <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2010/11/3/trial-by-jury-faces-the-axe-for-petty-crimes">Wozniak, Peter. "Trial by Jury faces the Axe for Petty Crimes." Politics.co.uk. 33 November 2010.Accessed 29 August 2011. </a></br>

Trial by jury is a legal process through which a group of lay individuals make a decision about the outcome of a trial, which is then applied by a judge. Usually the jury decides the facts of a case, but the judge determines the punishment. The individuals are selected from the community and usually need to come to a unanimous decision if they wish to find the defendant in the case guilty.
This topic brings together a number of philosophical and practical concerns. One Prop possibility is to argue against trial by jury in theory: a difficult argument to make, but not impossible. It is worth researching which countries have trial by jury and which do not, and looking into why these systems were designed the way they were.
That said, it is probably easiest to argue against trial by jury in specific circumstances, given the high level of importance many liberal democracies, like the UK and US, place on it. There is a lot of literature on contemporary attempts to try suspected terrorists, and debaters might want to consider the appropriateness of juries in these instances. Props may also want to consider some of the practical aspects of always having trial by jury: are there enough governmental resources to do so? What happens when juries are intimidated or threatened? Again, thinking about why trial by jury is or is not used in certain countries/contexts is a useful way to start brainstorming: India and Pakistan, for example, abolished jury trials out of concerns about jury bias.
Given that the strongest (or at least easiest) Prop strategy is probably to discuss practical concerns, it is important that both sides of the debate are careful to engage with each other's analysis. The Opp can make a very intuitively appealing case about the theoretical importance of trial by jury in a liberal, just court. Indeed, in many cases, the strongest way to deal with Prop concerns may be simply to weigh them against the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal courts, and argue that trial by jury is too important to be sacrificed for expediency. That said, the Opp should also ensure that they tailor their case to what the Prop argues, and do not underestimate the importance of practicality arguments. If the Prop convincingly argues that it is simply not possible to have trial by jury in some circumstances without an enormous tradeoff (either in terms of resources, or by sacrificing some other purpose of the court system), then the Opp needs to have a good response prepared about the tenability of their theoretical proposal. Similarly, the Prop should make sure to deal directly with theoretical analysis, perhaps by questioning the necessity of maintaining trial by jury as an absolute right.

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