Jury system is a trial system that twelve citizens decide whether defendants are guilty ornot. The verdictis unanimous. The jurors are all laypersons , as far as law is concerned. There is a reasonfor unanimousverdict. If one jury is against the verdict,it is regarded as being room for doubt.Advantages of jury systemare direct participation of American people, conventional judgement by people, fair stageof investigation,resistance against polictics’ and judical plot, and making of democratic consciousness.
For example, if apublic prosecutor submit unlawful proof without trial permission, counsel makes anobjection to it. A chiefjudge can’t admit counsel’s objection. Defendant is at a disadvantage.
However, there is apossibility thatjury system will check rotting of trial. Jurors need not explain reason of verdict to court.If juries feel wayof investigation is dirty and viorate human rights, they can decide the defendant isinnocnt. In short, jurorscan decide defendant is innocent even if a public prosecutor has disadvantageous proofsfor the defendant.
Juries who are representative of citizen make the decision value about proof. But, JeromeFrank, one ofdelegates of legal realists, criticized jury system in Law ; the Modern Mind, 1930. Alot of verdicts areirresponsible juries’ products of caprice and prejudice, for example, the defendant is a richcorporation, theplaintiff is a poor boy and the counsel is an eloquent speaker. Such facts often decide whowins or loses.He characterizes that juries have tendency to like weak people and hate strong people.Jury system seemsto have many problems.
A sophisticated and rich person, a person of position and a busybusinessman donot want to become a juror, because juries are bound for all trial period and thereforeperson who canafford time for trial can become a juror, such as a housewife, an old person and anunemployed person. Asa result jurors who have not even seen stock averages are to make the decision for animportant anddifficult case involved in the Antimonoply Law. It is said that citizen’s ability to executefor jury’s duty isthe problem. But I do not think so. There are not scientific grounds for their abilities.
It isa prejudice.Lawdegree and no proper ability to serve as a juror are not closely connected. Perhaps higheducational degreemay become an obstacle of conventional judgement. It is said that Japanese companiesalways lose thelawsuit, because American juries have prejudice against Japanese. Do you think it is true?The answer isNO.The probability of winnig a suit, by a jury who represents American citizen, was fiftyto one hundred indata from 1980 to 95. To my surprise, American juries do not seem to matter nationality.
After all,hypothesis that American juries have preconception against Japanese and Japanesecompanies always losesuit is not right. Moreover, hypothesis that juries are emotional and sympathize withdefendant, and as aresult the opinion that big companies always loses suit is groundless. The cause ofdistrust in jury systemis probably connected to the way of news reports by mass media.
Mass media reportsminus images. Thegeneral public believe it is the real image in spite of successful verdicts. The present ageis the one of aninformation-intensive society. Many people are influenced by the mass media. If thosepeople who haveprejudice happen to see a juror who gives a big yawn or dozes during trial, minus imagegeneralizes withconviction.
Let me give you a concrete example. Under sensational headline ofnewspapers, mass mediareports great costs of jury trials as if every trial by a jury costs a lot. I agree with the ideaof jury system.
Itis very good that American people participate in judicature. But, many people take acritical attitude towardthe jury system. I never think that they are wrong. They may say We had better entrusttrial to trainedjudge. However, meaning of jury system’s existence is to stick to common sense ofcitizens. Providingwhether the man is innocent or not by legal rights all people can exercise is permitted ismore importantthan the fact whether the man is innocent or not.