Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Importance of Jury Trials

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about "tort reform" and attempts by the US Chamber of Commerce (i.e. "big business") to minimize our rights to trial by jury. With this background, I came across this Slate article on the importance of jury trials in our country. The article focuses on the recent high profile cases (one criminal and one civil) of the Casey Anthony murder trial and Janet Leigh Jones' case against Halliburton. It's a good read. (See link below...)

As noted in the article, the framers of the Constitution "understood that trial by crazed mob, by the media, or by the crown, did not produce justice. The jury system was their best guarantee of something to mitigate those powerful forces." As a trial lawyer I have come to embrace jury trials and, at the same time, to live with the "inconsistencies" that they sometimes may generate. Thomas Jefferson said the jury trial was "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

Though we each may, through our own personal political, social or moral lenses, disagree with the outcome of certain cases, our system of justice in the US, including the right to trial by jury, is the best in the world, and these rights should be protected, or they will be abridged at our peril.