Jurors Gone Wild

|

A remarkable package of stories from Long Beach, California. (Link via L.A. Observed)

NEXT: Burning Man meets Politics

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What a surprising and funny story. Jurors are usually at the bottom of the legal food chain which is why it is tough to get anyone to serve.

    Courts are run for the convenience of judges, DA’s, and attorneys and never in the interests of justice, or in the case of civil trials, either of the parties to the action.

  2. A couple of comments.

    First, the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over zoning or housing code matters, unless a state is practicing some kind of racial discrimination. Alzheimer’s discrimination isn’t the same thing. Thus, the case should never have been in court in the first place.

    Second, I would like to comment on the practice of dismissing jurors so as to reduce the number below 12. Particularly distressing is the practice of dismissing jurors for “refusing to deliberate,” i. e., voting against the majority.

    A jury isn’t a jury unless it has 12 members. The Seventh Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says, “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved . . .” What is a jury? Nowadays the U. S. Supreme Court says that a jury is a panel with 6-12 lay members. But the Supreme Court says a lot of dumb things. Not so long ago, even the idiots on the Supreme Court acknowledged that a jury had to have 12 members. Here is what the Court used to say about the size of a jury. This was in the context of criminal cases under the Sixth Amendment, but it applies also to the Seventh Amendment.

    “[T]he next inquiry is whether the jury referred to in the original constitution and in the sixth amendment is a jury constituted, as it was at common law, of twelve persons, neither more nor less. . . . This question must be answered in the affirmative. [citing authorities] . . . It must consequently be taken that the word ‘jury’ and the words ‘trial by jury’ were placed in the constitution of the United States with reference to the meaning affixed to them in the law as it was in this country and in England at the time of the adoption of that instrument; and that when Thompson committed the offense of grand larceny in the territory of Utah- which was under the complete jurisdiction of the United States for all purposes of government and legislation-the supreme law of the land required that he should be tried by a jury composed of not less than twelve persons.” Thompson v. Utah, 170 U.S. 343, 349-350 (1898).

    “[Striking down an Act of Congress providing for a six-person “jury” in certain trials in the then-federal territory of Alaska] As it conclusively results from the foregoing considerations that the 6th Amendment to the Constitution was applicable to Alaska, and as of course, being applicable, it was controlling upon Congress in legislating for Alaska, it follows that the provision of the act of Congress under consideration, depriving persons accused of a misdemeanor in Alaska of a right to trial by a common-law jury, was repugnant to the Constitution and void.” Rassmussen v. United States, 197 U.S. 516, 528 (1905).

    “[W]e first inquire what is embraced by the phrase ‘trial by jury.’ That it means a trial by jury as understood and applied at common law, and includes all the essential elements as they were recognized in this country and England when the Constitution was adopted, is not open to question. Those elements were: (1) That the jury should consist of twelve men, neither more nor less . . .” Patton v. U. S., 281 U.S. 276, 288 (1930).

  3. Torq,

    State cases can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy exceeds $75k and the parties are diverse. I don’t know the residence of the McClure’s, but I think that even if they didn’t have diversity jurisdiction, they reached the federal court under federal question jurisdiction. Afterall, there is the federal Fair Housing Act.

    States can have juries of six, it is up to the state to decide, and in some states the number required to render a verdict is 5/6 or 10/12 or 11/12, it just depends on the state. Regardless of your string of citations, those cases only apply to the federal government, not the states who can abrogate the common law.

    In Ballew v. Georgia, 435 U.S. 223 (1977), the Supremes stated that a jury composed of fewer than six members would and does violate the 6th and 14th amendments.

    This might of fend you (and it is meant to), your lawyering skills are terrible, if you ever practice law, I hope that you have laid your assumptions to rest and that you will think/research before you type/speak.

  4. Fascinating article. Thanks for the link.

    There’s all this talk with fucking with the Constitution over banning gay marriage and flag burning.. why not address something of real substance, i.e. the jury system? Anyone of marginal intelligence who ever served would probably notice what stupid fucks usually get picked for juries. Lawyers aren’t looking for smart, objective juries, they are looking for idiots who are easily manipulated. If I understand correctly, when the Constitution was originally written, juries were made up of educated land owners. Yes, I’m going to sound like an elitist asshole here, but my, how times have changed. Whenever I get called up, I wear my most conservative suit, and look as Republican as possible (though I’m not). That ensures me not being picked, and I get to go home early.

    Long ramble short, I think elected judges should decide cases. This ensures that whoever is making the decision is educated, informed of the system, and less likely to be manipulated by the Johnny Cockrings of the world. This would cut down on the stupid, overblown cash awards, too.

  5. “State cases can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy exceeds $75k and the parties are diverse. I don’t know the residence of the McClure’s, but I think that even if they didn’t have diversity jurisdiction, they reached the federal court under federal question jurisdiction. Afterall, there is the federal Fair Housing Act.”

    Thank you for the irrelevant discussion of federal statutes. I repeat my point that the federal government has no jurisdiction over zoning or housing code matters, unless the state is practicing racial discrimination. There’s a little thing called the U. S. Constitution which takes priority over Congressional statutes. The U. S. Constitution contains a minor, technical provision known as the Tenth Amendment.

    “States can have juries of six, it is up to the state to decide, and in some states the number required to render a verdict is 5/6 or 10/12 or 11/12, it just depends on the state. Regardless of your string of citations, those cases only apply to the federal government, not the states who can abrogate the common law.”

    This article is about a trial in federal court. Do you know the difference between a federal court and a state court? A federal court is bound by the Sixth and Seventh Amendments.

    It is up to the states to decide whether they want to have juries in the first place. They can have trial by judge if they wish. Of course, I am discussing the actual Constitution, not the Supreme Court’s “creative” interpretations of it.

    “In Ballew v. Georgia, 435 U.S. 223 (1977), the Supremes stated that a jury composed of fewer than six members would and does violate the 6th and 14th amendments.”

    Thank you for confirming the point I made in my original post, which I will repeat: “Nowadays the U. S. Supreme Court says that a jury is a panel with 6-12 lay members.”

    “This might of fend you (and it is meant to), your lawyering skills are terrible, if you ever practice law, I hope that you have laid your assumptions to rest and that you will think/research before you type/speak.”

    I won’t ask you to think before you type, because I don’t want you to put yourself to any unaccustomed strain, but it might help if you actually read the arguments you’re responding to before replying to them.

  6. Torq,

    The “creative interpretations” are law. I do not disagree with you that the Constitution has been misinterpreted by the Supreme Court, I just disagree that the Constitution recognizes only a 12 member jury, which it doesn’t.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.