Jury System Reform sign now

The current U.S. jury system is deeply flawed due to issues such as juror misconduct/bias, a lack of cross-sectional representation, an insufficient number of educated jurors, and a severe deficiency of jurors who are are qualified and educated enough to weigh evidence and render proper decisions, especially in cases involving highly technical or complex legal issues and forensic evidence.

Jurors are prohibited from taking notes or asking questions; they dont have the law explained to them until after they have heard the facts. Jurors are not given literacy tests, drug tests, and they may have other limitations which affect their ability to make reasoned decisions.

Most importantly, it is not uncommon for jury verdicts to be inaccurate.

A bedrock principle of the American justice system is the presumption of "innocent until proven guilty"; law students are taught (and the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the principle of) Blackstone's Ratio: "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer".

Despite these beliefs, a Northwestern University study of 290 non-capital cases in four cities found that juries arrive at the wrong verdict in about one of six cases. The errors are more likely to send an innocent person to jail than to let a guilty person go free.

In addition 251 convicted felons have been exonerated based on DNA evidence after being found guilty by an American jury.

Our current jury system, made up of everyday laypeople should be replaced with an expert jury system made up of jurors who are educated in the law; this would entail the follwing four elements:

First, expert jurors need to have some legal education, such as the completion of law school or specialized training. This education would enable them to understand complex issues and evidence, properly apply legal principles, and make more accurate, fair verdicts.

Second, after meeting the education requirements, prospective jurors could be licensed as experts, just like people in other professions who must be licensed to perform their jobs; for example: police officers must be educated and properly trained before depriving a citizen of his freedom, judges must be well educated in the law in order to impose sentences, healthcare personnel must be licensed to practice medicine (after all, they are deciding on issues that affect a person's life or death), and manicurists must be licensed to do their work. Surely a juror who is capable of depriving someone of their freedom, or in capital murder trials, depriving someone of their very life (similar to medical personnel), should be licensed. If a manicurist requires a license, why not a juror?

Third, "expert" jurors could be called to serve via a court summons and subjected to jury selection just as the laymen jury system currently works; this way, judge/attorneys can ensure the jury will be cross-sectional and non-discriminative.

Fourth, those who display any form of misconduct/bias or who are found to render an unacceptable number of inaccurate decisions could be held accountable through sanctions or the loss of their license.

We respectfully request that you consider reforming the current U.S. jury system to a system made up of "expert" jurors as described above.

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Celeste HickmanBy:
Culture and SocietyIn:
Petition target:
U.S. Congress

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