Do you think there should be an intermediate verdict available to the jury?

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    4,925
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Under the present system, the jury can only either vote a verdict of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.
    But all too often the evidence for serious crimes is only circumstantial. There's a very high probability the accused did it—or so it seems—but you can't know for certain.

    Should there be another, third option for the jury? I mean like "not proven beyond a shadow of doubt".

    That way we wouldn't be letting someone who was probably guilty go off without punishment, but at the same time the jury would be able to have some input into recommending a more lenient sentence, in light of there being a small probability the accused did not do it.

    There are many court cases where the jury ended up voting guilty just because the burden of evidence was verging on the edge. The case could have gone either way. (And we all know there's a tremendous pressure for the jury to reach a unanimous verdict)

    Some people who might be innocent will get the full burden of the law, and some people who might be guilty will get let off, just because there wasn't quite enough evidence to be absolutely sure with complete confidence.
    Maybe it's more logical to have a slightly more graduated approach.

    I know some people say the defendant shouldn't be found guilty if it can't be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, but in reality, that's not how it works. There are crimes so terrible, it's human nature to want to punish, regardless of whether there might be a tiny chance the one being accused didn't do it. And if there's no intermediate option, the one being sentenced could get the full measure of the law.

    I know the judges have some discretion in sentencing, but shouldn't this be something the jury has more input into? After all, it's supposed to be the jury who decides whether there's enough evidence or not, or how much the evidence proves guilt.
     
  2. Derideo_Te

    Derideo_Te Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Messages:
    25,867
    Likes Received:
    18,621
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Smart prosecutors build that option into their indictments if they are not absolutely certain of being able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of the most severe crime.

    In other words they add additional charges besides 1st degree murder. They could include manslaughter or even varying degrees of assault charges.

    The jury might not find the murder charge compelling but be willing to find them guilty of manslaughter or assault instead.
     
  3. Eleuthera

    Eleuthera Well-Known Member Donor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    Messages:
    3,771
    Likes Received:
    1,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Since the Sparf decision in 1895 in which it was determined that juries are to be kept ignorant of their powers and obligations, the jury system in the US is but a small shadow of what it once was.

    Today's juries are mostly rubber stamps for the prosecution, convicting people of trumped up crimes, and acquitting police officers who have clearly murdered or otherwise committed criminal acts.
     
    kazenatsu likes this.
  4. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    4,925
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Here's one case where I believe the man should have been given a medium amount of prison time.

    https://nypost.com/2017/04/27/prominent-lawyer-charged-with-wifes-murder/amp/

    Man shoots wife and she dies. Man claims he accidentally shot her. Prosecutors charge him with murder because he had a motive.

    It was both their second marriage and they kept their finances separate, but in recent years his finances had not been doing so good and he was living off his wife's money.

    The jury in this case voted him guilty of murder. So a man killed his wife in what may have been an accident, but a possible motive did exist for him to kill her.

    So you can get some idea, "innocent" and "guilty" is not always so clear cut.

    Keep in mind this is from the husband's side of the story:
    http://amp.wsbtv.com/www.wsbtv.com/...oting-death-was-a-terrible-accident/452215841

    http://www.wavy.com/ap-top-news/jury-atlanta-attorney-who-shot-wife-guilty-of-murder/1136070037

    It looks like the jury in this case convicted him of "felony murder" because, even if shooting his wife was accidental, he still had a gun in the car, and the jury believed the use of his gun in that situation broke the law. Thus, technically under Georgia law, he would be responsible for her death, even if accidental.

    I don't agree with this, it's another example of how laws are written having unforeseen consequences in certain types of situations those who passed the law didn't bother anticipating. The jury came very close to being deadlocked on the felony murder charge, but in the end that was what the law said, so he got convicted.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  5. Battle3

    Battle3 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    14,139
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Juries are the one part of the legal system where you might fund actual justice.

    In some places and situations, juries make up their own mind independent of the judges decrees. I know a man who was on a 2 week jury stint, they see multiple cases. He convinced his fellow jurors that unless there were additional severe charges, every case of resisting arrest or interfering with a cop the accused should be found innocent. And that's what they did. Good for them. Cops use those charges to abuse people.
     
    Eleuthera likes this.

Share This Page