Saturday, September 11, 2010

To Improve the Jury Method, Get Medieval

The jury is a methodology, like timing a car with a radar gun. It must be proven accurate. Its management must be standardized under the edict of the Equal Protection Clauses. Like a radar gun, it must be maintained, calibrated and retested for accuracy every day.

Unlike the radar gun, this tool is used by the lawyer to put people to death, and to transfer $trillions, and to have untold but important effects on the economy, the culture and the behavior of the public.

How can it be improved?

1) Selection should reflect statistical principles. If it to represent the population at large, random selection from the entire population is essential. That means, no one can get out of it. And the selection is random.

2) Stop excluding people with knowledge either of the subject matter or of the parties. If you had no recordings, having a juror who walked the boundaries of the property 10 years earlier at the time of transfer is invaluable in a property dispute. Nothing has changed. If you have someone who ran with the defendant and knows all his secrets is OK to have on the jury. Why do doctors' wives have to be forced off in a medmal case. Her bias could go either way, and the risks cancel each other.

3) Only the first secret ballot represents a valid finding. Subsequent ballots represent the opinion of a big loudmouth bully and the desire of the rest to just go home. There should be one ballot, and a supermajority requirement reflecting the burden of proof certainty.

4) Stop the slavery. Pay people their standard daily earnings, up to some high maximum.

5) Stop the hobbling of the jury. Allow note taking. Allow questioning of witnesses by juries, for example, they may want to say to an expert, "Doctor, we have no idea what you mean. Could you rephrase your opinion in simpler language?" Or would lawyers prefer they keep that feeling to themselves?

6) Allow the strengths. They have the wisdom of the crowd. They have balance. Group think and pressure is where extreme views get polished, and become less extreme.

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