Is the American jury system still a good idea?
A jury consists of a body of persons selected according to law who hear evidence and decide questions of fact in a court case. The American system jury system is not a good idea because they are rarely used, jurors are non-professional, ordinary citizens, and jurors may be incompetent.
One reason why jury trials should not still be an option is because they are rarely used. As shown in Document A, only 3.7% of federal criminal cases were tried before juries in 2010. This shows how little the jury system has been used and how civil and criminal cases are tried less before jury trials. Seeing as the majority is composed of bench trials, it would make sense if there were bench trials only. In addition to bench trials being used more often, a defendant has a better chance of acquittal in this type of trial. Jury trials are infrequent events which factors to why they should not be kept.
Another reason why jury trials should not still be an option is because jurors are nonprofessional, ordinary citizens. Document B considers amateurism in a letter to The Times, “Of course trial by Jury is one of our sacred cows. But, you know, if we'd long had trial by Judge in criminal cases and I were now to suggest that his reasoned and professional judgment as to facts and inferences should be replaced by the blanket verdict of pretty well any twelve men and women placed in a cramped box and holed up there for days or even weeks at a time you would rightly think that I had taken leave of my senses.” As a “sacred cow”, people do not like to criticize trials by jury. The American people have an attachment to the jury system since it has been in place for a very long time and that is what they are used to. However, had there only been bench trials from the start, then suggesting a jury would be perceived as nonsensical. And judges are professionals who would be more reasonable in comparison to a juror. Normal citizens would not be as knowledgeable as a judge and therefore jury trials are not a better option for determining justice.
Finally, a third reason jury trials should not still be an option is because jurors may be incompetent. Document F explores this incompetence with Mark Twain’s Roughing It which tells, “A jury-list was made out, and Mr. B. L., a prominent banker and a valued citizen, was questioned precisely as he would have been questioned in any court in America: “Have you heard of this homicide?” “Yes.” “Have you held conversations upon the subjects?” “Yes.” “Have you formed or expressed opinions about it?” “Yes.” “Have you read the newspaper accounts of it?” “Yes.” “We do not want you.” High-profile cases could be seated with potentially uniformed jurors because if they do not know about the case, it indicates those individuals must not follow current news and events. Cartoon 2 of Document E depicts a jury saying, “We, the jury, find the defendant to be as guilty as he looks.” The verdict was based on the defendant’s appearance instead of evidence and that highlights concerns about juries’ such as snap-judgements and prejudice. Jury trials should not be maintained as jurors may be inadequate in terms of ignorance and unjust rulings.
The jury system of America is not a reasonable option method as they are seldom used, jurors are inexperienced, common people, and jury members may be inept. In 2010, only 3.7% of federal criminal cases were judged by juries. In comparison to the verdict of randomly selected jurors, judges are “reasoned” and “professional”. And jury members are unsuitable for determining justice because they can make inaccurate convictions which are not based necessarily on facts. The American jury system should not be retained due to several disadvantageous qualities.