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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72556 Find in a Library
Title: Pros and Cons of Jury Trials
Journal: Forum  Volume:11  Issue:2  Dated:(1976)  Pages:590-599
Author(s): R Janata
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The arguments that the civil jury system is too costly, that it slows the justice system, and that judges are at least as well as qualified as juries of laypeople, and at best better qualified, are discounted as unsupportable.
Abstract: First, cost statistics from 1973 show that the entire (civil and criminal) jury system to have been appropriated $18.5 million, which is 8.8 percent of the more than $203 million for the Federal courts. If the juror costs are compared to other costs in the U.S. Government; e.g., legislative and executive costs (and costs of defense and health, education, and welfare), the U.S. is spending a comparative pittance on sustaining the jury system. Second, allegations that the problem of court congestion could be solved by eliminating the jury system can be countered by the fact that the real reason for court delay is simply that a litigation explosion has occurred and that the number of judgeships and court facilities has not increased proportionately to handle it. More judges in any court system can reduce caseload and delay, and the improvement in the administrative procedures will also have an important effect. Third, jurors and judges both bring their prejudices, biases, and psychological traits to the courtroom. But the mix of different persons with different backgrounds and psychological traits in the jury room brings interaction among jurors, counteraction of their biases and prejudices, and assures a freshness of approach that judges, who see the same cases, expert witnesses, and lawyers over and over again, cannot maintain. Furthermore, if judges were to decide cases alone, judges could suffer great losses of respect. Studies have shown that reducing the size of the jury shows no advantages, as some critics have claimed it would. The jury is one of the last areas in which the individual citizen interacts with the workings of government. A jury is able to bring the standards of the community to play in the matters which it considers. The cost of the system is insignificant, the delay caused by the system is minimal, and the value is immeasurable. Until some alternative emerges that truly shows greater effectiveness, the jury system should remain.
Index Term(s): Court costs; Juries; Juror utilization
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