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Rectifying Judicial Incompetence

  1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    One would assume there are many ways to rectify (or avoid) judicial incompetence. The primary way way is to select quality judges and jurors in the first place. Quality judges come from education. Jurors not so much. In fact, jurors are just your run-of-the-mill, educated or not, average Joe and Joan. Perhaps we need to test jurors to make sure they are intelligent enough to discern and accurately deduct the innocence or guilt of the accused. "Innocent until proven guilty" is the goal. But what about those who are sentenced to death or to life in prison because they were found guilty… when they were actually innocent? Should we leave it to the luck of the draw or should we require some sort of intelligence testing in selecting jurors, especially for murder trials?

    1. Credence2 profile image86
      Credence2posted 2 years ago in reply to this

      No, it is better to leave it to the luck of the draw as opposed to this testing idea and the direction that it is leading us not intended by the framers as to what constitutes a speedy and fair trial. Being in LA, you remember the absurd attacks against the jury and process by a discontented mob (public opinion) that were not priveliged to all the evidence available to the  jury  during the OJ trial back in 94.

      Who gets to say who is smart enough? I have heard similar reasoning in regards to who should vote, literacy and intelligence tests. Just a couple or 3 generations ago.....

      1. GA Anderson profile image82
        GA Andersonposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Yep, your OJ reference is a good one. The media painted a picture of "guilty as hell, (and maybe he was), but all I knew was what I saw on TV. So I left it up to the jury.

        Of course there are judicial mistakes, but I think frequency might be an important consideration. How many OJ scenarios have there been relative to how many similar major crime cases that "seemed" to be OK?

        Perfection will always be unattainable in human endeavors.

        I'm with you - a jury of my peers. IQ tests be damned - they don't tell you a thing about common sense or reasoning abilities.

        GA

        1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
          Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          "Of course there are judicial mistakes, but I think frequency might be an important consideration. How many OJ scenarios have there been relative to how many similar major crime cases that "seemed" to be OK?"

          "Perfection will always be unattainable in human endeavors."
          GA

          Dear GA Anderson,
                I have been contemplating your response. I very much agree with what you have said here.

          1. GA Anderson profile image82
            GA Andersonposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Oh no! Don't do that.

            No one is supposed to willingly agree with the Curmudgeon. He insist that your agreement must be coerced out of you by his infallible and irrefutable, and undeniable logic, and his wisdom of all things human of course. smile

            GA

            1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
              Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              …contemplate, consider, read, reread. The words are there. Sometimes we just need time to think about them.

    2. GA Anderson profile image82
      GA Andersonposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      OMG! Not another "Intelligence" qualifier.

      Measuring a person's capabilities by their IQ is like measuring your wealth by your bank account. You are looking at the wrong picture.

      How would you feel about requiring jurors to be knowledgeable in the field of the crime? Product liability case - test the jurors on their knowledge of the product? Murder case - test the jurors on the mechanics and feasibility of the murder weapon/method? Sodomy case - well, not sure there is a test for that.

      Jurors are "tested" by both the prosecution and defense during the selection process.

      Every time I hear an "intelligence test" qualifier - I remember the lawyer friend that came into my restaurant to call a tow service because he had a flat tire. It wasn't extravagance on his part, he had all he needed; a jack and a good spare tire, he just did not know how to change a flat tire. Geesh.

      GA

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
        Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Did you read any of the download preview? Juror competency is an issue trial courts must deal with. They deal with it in many ways besides intelligence testing.

        "The results suggest that, in the *absence of systemic reform*, trial courts must use all available devices to assist jury decision making, such as providing detailed introductory instructions; permitting note taking; allowing interim summation by counsel and discussion by jurors; allowing jurors to formulate questions for witnesses; providing concluding instructions prior to argument; and using special verdicts."
        http://www.academia.edu/8078704/THE_COM … IVIL_CASES

        1. GA Anderson profile image82
          GA Andersonposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          No, I did not look at the download preview link. It was not in the comment to which I responded.

          This was...

          "Perhaps we need to test jurors to make sure they are intelligent enough to discern and accurately deduct the innocence or guilt of the accused."

          "test" and "intelligent" in the same sentence. Hence my comment. Was I being too picky?

          GA

          1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
            Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            ...what did you mean by this?
            "Every time I hear an "intelligence test" qualifier - I remember the lawyer friend that came into my restaurant to call a tow service because he had a flat tire. It wasn't extravagance on his part, he had all he needed; a jack and a good spare tire, he just did not know how to change a flat tire. Geesh." ?

            1. GA Anderson profile image82
              GA Andersonposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              I meant the guy was very intellectually smart. I would venture that he had a very high IQ - but he still could not "understand" the process needed to change a flat tire.

              It was apparently a weak analogy. I was trying to convey my belief that having a high IQ does not necessarily make someone a good judge of facts.

              GA

              1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
                Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Oh, thanks. I was just trying to get to the bottom of this issue by posting this discussion.  Credence2, you and Melissa helped out tremendously.
                Thank you.

  2. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    From glancing into this download preview, I discovered there is more to this issue than meets one's first glance. It looks like the issue of juror competency is a major concern of judges and sometimes they just don't use a jury because of the complexity of the case. Sometimes they bring in jurors with special expertise in the area being dealt with. The question of juror competency is a very interesting topic which people involved in these cases (,i.e. judges and lawyers,) have to seriously consider and contend with constantly.


    http://www.academia.edu/8078704/THE_COM … IVIL_CASES

  3. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    Other snippets from the preview:

    "This Part assumes that systemic reform is unlikely and that juries will therefore continue to resolve
    factual issues in even the most complicated cases."

    "These courts emphasized the length of trial, inability of jurors to remember testimony,
    volume of evidence, number of claims, hardship imposed by lengthy service, and esoteric and complicated concepts."

  4. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    So the question remains: Why is testing the intelligence of jurors a seemingly logical solution in solving the problems of "judicial incompetence," but is completely and utterly
                                                              !  T A B O O  !
                                                  ...when it really gets down to it?

  5. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    "The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in most civil suits that are heard in federal court...The Seventh Amendment does not apply in state court even when a litigant is enforcing a right created by federal law. However, most state constitutions similarly afford the right to trial by jury in civil cases." (non-criminal cases.)

    Background:
    Juries perform three main functions:
    1. Jurors listen to the evidence, ascertain the relevant facts, and draw reasonable inferences in reaching a verdict.
    2. Jurors listen to instructions read by the court and apply legal principles to the case.
    3. Jurors determine the legal consequences of the litigants' behavior through group deliberation. They publicly announce their verdict.

    Other facts:
    1. Federal judges may not re-examine any fact tried by a jury, (unless it is allowed by the common law.) In other words, "...no court, trial or appellate, may overturn a jury verdict that is reasonably supported by the evidence... Judges are charged with the responsibility of resolving issues concerning the admissibility of evidence and instructing jurors regarding the pertinent laws governing the case. Judges are also permitted to comment on the evidence, highlight important issues, and otherwise express their opinions in open court as long as each factual question is ultimately submitted to the jury. However, a judge may not interject her personal opinions or observations to such an extent that they impair a litigant's right to a fair trial…"

    2." A jury must be allowed to hear a lawsuit from start to finish unless it presents a legal claim that is completely lacking an evidentiary basis."

    3. "The Seventh Amendment guarantees civil litigants the right to an impartial jury. A juror's impartiality may be compromised by communications with sources outside the courtroom, such as friends, relatives, and members of the media. The presence of even one partial, biased, or prejudiced juror creates a presumption that the Seventh Amendment has been violated."
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictiona … +Amendment

    1. MelissaBarrett profile image61
      MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      You need to actually check out the fourteenth amendment to make sense of why testing for IQ is a remarkably bad idea. Specifically, how it effects reasonable doubt and preponderance of evidence. It's a due process thing. If you raise the bar of "rational person" to "IQ 130+" you put the jury above the accused in 99 percent of the cases. He is no longer being tried by his peers.

      In addition, unless you go ahead and run a briggs-myer on the jury on top of an IQ test, all you are basically getting is the ability of a person to learn. IQ does not address logic, decision making, reason etc. Such tests were never intended to. They rely mainly on verbal acuity as well, so ESL jurors would no longer exist... which would be fun for trials with minorities.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
        Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Thanks Melissa! 
        This explanation is it for me:  "He is no longer being tried by his peers."  because when "...you raise the bar of 'rational person' to 'IQ 130+' you put the jury above the accused in 99 percent of the cases."

        ( You just saved my sanity. )

        1. MelissaBarrett profile image61
          MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          NP...

          Just one more note, the following quote is slightly misleading:

          "1. Federal judges may not re-examine any fact tried by a jury, (unless it is allowed by the common law.) In other words, "...no court, trial or appellate, may overturn a jury verdict that is reasonably supported by the evidence... "

          Federal judges have the power to overturn cases where they believe that insufficient evidence was presented to establish reasonable doubt... so while they can't "overrule" a jury if sufficient evidence was presented, they can overturn convictions where such evidence didn't exist at all, but the accused was convicted anyway. An example is in cases where several elements were needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubt for a guilty verdict, but prosecutors only proved sufficient proof of one of them. Juries may be so swayed by the proving of that one element that other elements are ignored or "proven" with circumstantial evidence that doesn't fulfill the "reasonable doubt" measure.

          There's a distinction there, and the above quote could be misleading to some.

          1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
            Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            How do you know all this? We have been floundering over this issue all day! Did you really have to wait until now? (its 12:13 am here.)

            Good night and thanks again!

  6. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    GA stated:
    Jurors are *tested* by both the prosecution and defense during the selection process."
    But, I do not think so:
    After being randomly selected, "each juror is *interviewed* about their backgrounds and beliefs.  Each attorney has the chance to object to jurors. There are two types of objections: "peremptory challenges" and "challenges for cause." When an attorney challenges a juror for cause, there was most likely something in the juror's background that would prejudice them in the case. For example, it is likely that an attorney would not allow a retired police officer to sit on a jury that decides a police brutality case. In federal courts, each side has an unlimited number of challenges for cause. Attorneys do not need to give reasons for peremptory challenges, but each side only gets a limited number of these types of challenges."
    http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-pr … ected.html

    "Of course, an attorney is not allowed to use peremptory challenges based on the race or gender of potential jurors." or based on Intelligence Quotient data... for some reason. What reason, precisely? (Besides: "IQ tests be damned." as GA put it.)

    Would someone please put it into words?

    This is close but not close enough: "Measuring a person's capabilities by their IQ is like measuring your wealth by your bank account. You are looking at the wrong picture." GA
     
    Good point: "What about scientific studies that show that upper I.Q levels and especially genius levels of intelligence CAN... have flaws in other areas of the human intelligence and maturity levels: personality, emotional, socio-difficulties? ahorseback

    This viewpoint is the closest: "I have heard similar reasoning in regards to who should vote: literacy and intelligence tests." Credence2

    It just seems unfairly discriminating, if you want my opinion.

    FINIS pour Moi.

  7. ahorseback profile image47
    ahorsebackposted 2 years ago

    Using I.Q. for jury selection would be a fine example of progress ! Yes ....that is  as long as  selecting judges without  ANY political agendas and lawyers , both defense and prosecutorial by how little money they make  or charge a defendant in a years time , were ALSO part of the equation .     I mean after all , the finest banker on wall street is the richest one , the best teacher in the world is the one who   has  the most stories to tell that can hold a child's attention the longest ! Right ?         What about a child-care workers  that brings their own diapers !      Please !   Who suggested that anyways ?

  8. ahorseback profile image47
    ahorsebackposted 2 years ago

    Tinkering with humanity  and all it's flaws get's kind of tricky doesn't it !

  9. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 2 years ago

    I forgot to mention ahorseback: but I did not understand this:

    "Using I.Q. for jury selection would be a fine example of progress...as long as selecting judges without ANY political agendas
    and lawyers, both defense and prosecutorial,
    by how little money they make
    or charge a defendant in a year's time,
    were ALSO part of the equation.
    I mean after all, the finest banker on Wall Street is the richest one, the best teacher in the world is the one who has the most stories to tell that can hold a child's attention the longest! Right? What about a child-care workers that brings their own diapers!"

  10. ahorseback profile image47
    ahorsebackposted 2 years ago

    Using IQ to  qualify a jury would be like using hairstyle to elect a president ! Oh yea , we already do that ! -- I.Q.level alone  doesn't guarantee  social maturity ,  emotional competence ,  or a working knowledge of our legal system , nor does it allow  one to hold  much insight into human behavior .  I saw a construction engineer once climb into the back of a dump truck  to assume measuring its volume  ,  and almost lose his life as the men loading the trucks  almost dumped  a few tons of gravel on his head . He didn't even realize why they were mad at him , I'm sure his IQ. was 190 or so , yet not an once of common sense !

 
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