The Jury Talks Back

2/8/2009

I hope he fails, too

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 11:42 pm

Over at “that other blog“, there is a thread about an LAT piece on Rush Limbaugh, and I just want to say the following…

I hope President Obama fails, too.

See, I too have listened to Obama for over a year and a half, I have heard his positions and goals and I have seen what he has attempted in his short time in office.

I disagree with so much, it isn’t even funny, and thus I want him to fail.  I want him to not achieve his goals, and that is the definition of failure.  I still hope he is a good President, but in order for him to be one, his goals must remain unfulfilled.

Is this unfair of a new president?  Having just come out of the “Stolen” presidency of Bush the Younger, I have to say “No, you fucking twat, or do ‘fair chances’ only happen for Democrats?”

Non-Liberals (from hard-core Ultra Conservatives to anarchist Libertarians) are the Opposition.  It isn’t our job to make Obama’s life easy.  The Oppositions job is – surprisingly enough – to oppose the Ruling Party.  To act on the best interests of those who elected them.  To try and mollify the insanity of those who have – in my opinion – lied their way into power.

So there.  I hope Obama fails, and considering the number of unforced errors he’s made already, I don’t think I’m out of line by predicting lots more of that same.

Juror Bias

Filed under: Uncategorized — JRM @ 2:00 pm

Peremptory – or causeless – challenges to jurors can be made for certain reasons, but not others; this story talked about an allegation of malfeasance based on a prosecutor striking a fat juror.

Let me start with how peremptory challenges work. Peremptory challenges are challenges without cause. Challenges for cause (“All cops are liars,” or “He’s obviously guilty. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be sitting there.”) are unlimited. In all jurisdictions I’m familiar with, each side has some number of peremptory challenges, or challenges without cause.

The reasons for those challenges range mightily. Attorneys throw off people for hairstyles, clothes, grumpy facial expressions, crossed arms, occupations, and dozens of other reasons.

As I’m prone to do on these criminal law hypos, we begin with a clean slate. You don’t have to worry about what the law actually is. So, assume you get to make up the law, and this includes the lawyers in the crowd.

Let us suppose that virtually all experienced prosecutors in Irishtown have discovered that, all else being equal, people of French ancestry are far more likely to vote not guilty than people of Irish ancestry. Names are useful to guess what ancestry people have.

By “all else being equal,” I’m saying that if an Irish person and a French person answer the questions the same way, with the same intonations, and have the same job/marital status/everything else, the Irish person is significantly more likely to vote for guilt. Prosecutors suspect this is because the French feel oppressed by the majority Irish population. Please assume, for these purposes, that prosecutors are very likely right about the tendencies of voting, though you need not assume they are right about the reason for those tendencies (maybe the French just like surrendering.)

Should the prosecutor be permitted to use his peremptory challenges partly or wholly on the basis that the juror appears to be of French ancestry? Should the defense be permitted to throw off Irish people on the basis that they are Irish? Neither side will throw off all members of the troublesome group, but they wish to use it as a factor.

Let’s take another one: Prosecutor believes that younger jurors are less likely to convict than older jurors, and wishes to use age as a factor. Should he be able to do so? How about the defense?

And, number three: Prosecutor believes that gay jurors are less likely to convict than straight jurors. Should she be able to do that? Should the defense be able to kick straight jurors for being straight? Should the defense be able to keep a gay juror based on their orientation?

Last one: Prosecutor believes that on a rape case, male jurors are more likely to convict than female jurors. Should she be able to use gender as a proxy?

Again, this is about what the rules should be. What do you think? I will get back to this in a couple of days, though there may be a delay due to a trial and other work duties.

–JRM


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