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Steve Cohen
The Case for Anonymous Juries « Back to Story

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While the simple solution is to make juries "anonymous" the difficult reality is that it makes it very easy to conceal illegal acts such as jury tampering, buying juror votes, etc.. Through total and permanent anonymity it would be 100% completely impossible to detect, prevent or prosecute any crimes involving jurors. It would be nice, but very naive to believe that jurors are more honest than the average person since they are the average person. In this most recent Casey Anthony case we know of at least 1 juror who immediately sought significant monetary compensation even though the nature of the trial resulted in no justice for a murdered baby. See what I mean... some people may be legally correct but morally incorrect. If jurors were always anonymous this would open up a real can of worms and would become the most sought after position in the world for means to a quick buck... payoff for a verdict. In fact, the longer the judge keeps the jury secret the higher the value of his/her information is on the media market... Last I heard highest bids on Juror 6 offered by FOX News/Greta Van Susteren is greater than $50K. His interview may even shade his face or conceal his name in some way but he's able to capitalize on the death of a baby because of a shocking verdict (worth much more on the media market than an expected verdict) and public information withheld from the public... this would be the start of all closed government. It's not so simple or even beneficial according to the Supreme Court who has already addressed this very issue and determined that it would threaten the entire judicial system and result in a distrust of government that would never be repaired. Closing the doors to some information is a beginning to closing the doors to more and more information. Public trust is vital to our judicial system without it the entire judicial system will crumble.
take it one step further - let the defendant have anonymity as well. the most egregious flaw in our jury system is the business of "jury selection." attorneys on both sides hire jury consultants to help select jurors whose biases, either for or against the defendant's race, class or religion, can be counted on to override the logic of the evidence itself.

think of the o.j.simpson trial. suppose the jurors had no idea who the defendant was. suppose the evidence was all the jury had on which to base a verdict.

what do you think the verdict would have been??

if a trial were conducted with the jury in another location - even in another city -receiving all testimony in a neutral manner, in writing, for example, on individual monitors or one large one, typed by a court reporter as it is given, then factors like race, class and appearance of the defendant and witnesses would not be factors in determining the verdict.

physical evidence could be presented to the jury using video conferencing.

we already use these methods in long-distance education. students attend lectures and participate in class discussions while seated at their computers.

application of these methods would protect jurors from intimidation and danger of all kinds while affording the defendant the fairest possible trial.



Francis W. Stocker, M.D. November 14, 2010 at 3:26 AM
Like Therese's idea.
In Scotland, we have a jury of 15, with 8 votes being necessary for a conviction. The verdict is simply announced as being unanimous, or by a majority; the actual number of votes is not specified.

Jury tampering is almost unknown; the only cases concern the passing of prejudicial information to one or more jurors, who then communicate it to the rest.
Gangs depend on terrorist intimidation ( a ubiquitous worldwide problem as dating back as old as gangs). The intimidation of citizens' manifest itself as police unable to mount "good" cases for lack of witnesses. This "I didn't see anything." mantra is very common in gang infested areas.

The same fears are now extant among virtually all citizens who have any street smarts. Gangs now kill (or threaten to kill) family members if one participates as a witness or juror.

Many otherwise "solvable" crimes never see court proceedings and the one that do often fail to find guilty verdicts due to death threats.

I am a Latino with much experience in jail and prison social work. The Mexican drug cartels and our own prison and street gangs have many ways of "taking over" communities.... And "freezing" citizens with the threat or chronic fear of death is one import means of literally "owning" neighborhoods.

From what I've learned over the years, it is time to modernize our judicial system to take these realities into consideration. With our technological tools, there must be ways of dealing with the problem of criminals subverting justice.
Why not just make all jurors anonymous for all cases? That way there's no prejudicing the jury about a particular defendant -- it's just the way juries work. I'm sure there would be ways to subvert this process, but aren't there ways to subvert any process?