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Lobbying the Jury

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5 Responses

  1. I agree. Furthermore, one really has to wonder about the symbolic nature of the speech involved – you know, the type that affords the very highest constitutional protection. The Times undercuts its own position (legally) by saying what the buttons “essentially” meant. The very fact that it is not known (exactly) what is meant by wearing the buttons suggests it was symbolic, or pure speech. So, as you say, absent some additional written message, it crosses few lines.

    I have heard of persons sitting in D.U.I. trials wearing big M.A.D.D. buttons. I wonder if you think I judge should be able to ban that sort of behavior?

    best,

  2. Ron Wright says:

    I think you’re right about the buttons, and correct more generally about the abilities of jurors. I’m always suspicious of legal regulation meant to prevent poor juror performance — in a democracy, it’s best to start with a strong presumption that jurors (and voters) are competent to sort out problems for themselves. That presumption might not be factually true in a particular case, but overall it’s the best starting point.

  3. Kristin Eisenbraun says:

    I once worked a case in which each member of the victim’s family held up a middle finger while the defendant testified. The judge had to stop the proceedings and ask the family to keep their emotions in check, but I highly doubt that this, in any way, affected the jury. However, there may have been a subtle effect on the defendant’s testimony — but, like you, I give the jury much more credit than that NY Times writer seems to. After all, they did acquit my client.

  4. M. Hodak says:

    My own experience with the jury system supports Jennifer’s comments–jurors clearly take their roles seriously, including the presumption of innocence which is drummed into us during the selection process and reinforced by peer pressure in deliberations. The NYT, on the other hand, never fails to exhibit its elitist bent on the need of higher authorities to protect us from ourselves.

  5. EvilGod says:

    Don’t tell me you actually believe it’s possible to “underestimate the the intelligence and commitment of jurors”.