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jury debate - Flashcards

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Class:AFR 498 - HONORS STUDY
Subject:AFRICANA STUDIES
University:Connecticut College
Term:Spring 2015
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Mr Chairman, picture this scenario, you have been accused of a very complex murder with an abundance of 'evidence' and reports, don't worry you didn't commit this murder, you're innocent!   You go to court for your murder trial, with a judge and 12 jurors, who are made up of civilians who have been called up for jury duty.  The jurors make up 2 different races, and many different professions, such as an electrician, a race horse trainer and a marine biologist.  Now, you know you are innocent, and the odds are in your favour, but the jury finds you guilty, the onlookers are in absolute shock...    Mr Chairman would you rather be trialled by three professional judges with Law degrees that have been appointed by the Governor General of Australia on the advice of the Prime Minister? or 12 civilians from mixed professions with no law degree who are there because their name was drawn for Jury duty?  A jury pretty much provides a court with public opinion, and public opinion doesn't have a law degree. 

In 1969, South Africa abolished trial by jury, the South African law commission stated the reasons for this were brought about by fears of racial prejudice among jury members and reluctance of the public to serve as jurors.    Today, many countries are following suit, only 80 of the 196 countries in the world use juries.   Even the supposed founder of the jury trial, England has withdrawn jurors for complex cases.    In New South Wales, the government changed the law so that defendants could apply for a judge alone trial, and according to the Australian bureau of statistics, only 3% of trials in New South Wales are conducted with a jury.

Sadly, still in our current age, we are surrounded by racial prejudice, you just have to watch the news to hear about racially motivated mass shootings in places such as Charleston in America, probably to the surprise of many, racial prejudice presides in the legal system, an ex-New South Wales juror told Malcolm McCusker, a Queen's Council, that two of his fellow jurors decided that an accused was guilty of a stabbing simply because of his skin colour.   If you ask me, that's just not on.   And what's even worse, the US court system avoids picking jurors of African-American descent because of 'low-intelligence'.   There is a similar trend here in Australia, Aboriginals make up 45% of the population in central Australia, and there is a very, very small percent of Aboriginals that serve as jurors. 

Aren't juries meant to be representative of the general public? How can a jury be representative of the general public if court systems are openly excluding specific races?   This is just goes to show us that the judiciary system cannot function on its principles, and that the system is borderline corrupt. 

In Victoria, a civilian on jury duty gets paid $40 a day, that's $200 a week.  The average Australian weekly wage is $1,539, or around $307 a day.  Now time for some maths, the $200 a week made by a juror is a meagre 12% of the average weekly wage in Australia.

Also your employer is only obligated under the National Fair Work act to cover your regular wage for the first 10 days of your jury duty.   So it's not only a loss of income for the juror, it also places a financial burden on the person's employer, having to pay someone who is not completing any work, that money could be going towards a cover worker. 
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Another interesting point that I wish to make is, the fact that more people are found innocent if there is no jury involved, this could come down to many reasons, lack of legal experience, or maybe even a lack of interest, justice Peter McClellan believes this is because the jurors may become restless at the end of a long trial and are looking to have it over and done with.

To conclude, in a court of law, I would rather be faced by three judges with law degrees, than facing 1 judge and 12 jurors that have been roped in to jury duty, because I would say a judge would have a better understanding of the legal system, than say, a plumber.  Mr Chairman, we understand that nobody, whatever race, gender, religion, or however well educated they may be is the depository of all wisdom, but in court, let's leave the decisions to where the legal wisdom resides, in the professionals with law degrees, the judge. 

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Mr Chairman, picture this scenario, you have been accused of a very complex murder with an abundance of 'evidence' and reports, don't worry you didn't commit this murder, you're innocent!   You go to court for your murder trial, with a judge and 12 jurors, who are made up of civilians who have been called up for jury duty.  The jurors make up 2 different races, and many different professions, such as an electrician, a race horse trainer and a marine biologist.  Now, you know you are innocent, and the odds are in your favour, but the jury finds you guilty, the onlookers are in absolute shock...    Mr Chairman would you rather be trialled by three professional judges with Law degrees that have been appointed by the Governor General of Australia on the advice of the Prime Minister? or 12 civilians from mixed professions with no law degree who are there because their name was drawn for Jury duty?  A jury pretty much provides a court with public opinion, and public opinion doesn't have a law degree. 

  In 1969, South Africa abolished trial by jury, the South African law commission stated the reasons for this were brought about by fears of racial prejudice among jury members and reluctance of the public to serve as jurors.    Today, many countries are following suit, only 80 of the 196 countries in the world use juries.   Even the supposed founder of the jury trial, England has withdrawn jurors for complex cases.    In New South Wales, the government changed the law so that defendants could apply for a judge alone trial, and according to the Australian bureau of statistics, only 3% of trials in New South Wales are conducted with a jury.
  

Sadly, still in our current age, we are surrounded by racial prejudice, you just have to watch the news to hear about racially motivated mass shootings in places such as Charleston in America, probably to the surprise of many, racial prejudice presides in the legal system, an ex-New South Wales juror told Malcolm McCusker, a Queen's Council, that two of his fellow jurors decided that an accused was guilty of a stabbing simply because of his skin colour.   If you ask me, that's just not on.   And what's even worse, the US court system avoids picking jurors of African-American descent because of 'low-intelligence'.   There is a similar trend here in Australia, Aboriginals make up 45% of the population in central Australia, and there is a very, very small percent of Aboriginals that serve as jurors. 

Aren't juries meant to be representative of the general public? How can a jury be representative of the general public if court systems are openly excluding specific races?   This is just goes to show us that the judiciary system cannot function on its principles, and that the system is borderline corrupt. 

  

In Victoria, a civilian on jury duty gets paid $40 a day, that's $200 a week.  The average Australian weekly wage is $1,539, or around $307 a day.  Now time for some maths, the $200 a week made by a juror is a meagre 12% of the average weekly wage in Australia.

Also your employer is only obligated under the National Fair Work act to cover your regular wage for the first 10 days of your jury duty.   So it's not only a loss of income for the juror, it also places a financial burden on the person's employer, having to pay someone who is not completing any work, that money could be going towards a cover worker. 
  

Another interesting point that I wish to make is, the fact that more people are found innocent if there is no jury involved, this could come down to many reasons, lack of legal experience, or maybe even a lack of interest, justice Peter McClellan believes this is because the jurors may become restless at the end of a long trial and are looking to have it over and done with.

  

To conclude, in a court of law, I would rather be faced by three judges with law degrees, than facing 1 judge and 12 jurors that have been roped in to jury duty, because I would say a judge would have a better understanding of the legal system, than say, a plumber.  Mr Chairman, we understand that nobody, whatever race, gender, religion, or however well educated they may be is the depository of all wisdom, but in court, let's leave the decisions to where the legal wisdom resides, in the professionals with law degrees, the judge. 

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