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Jurors should be tested

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Jurors should be tested

Postby megaman » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:34 am

I have long believed that jurors should be tested before they are aloud to serve.

and just today i have come across a example of why i believe this.
a man was convicted on the basis of a single witness testimony.
his conviction was by the minimum majority verdict aloud in his state (yes it was an american case)
and one of the jurors, upon discovering that he convicted an innocent man, explained his clearly absurd reasons

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/pamm ... -to-prison

lets just go though some of the comments made in this article

" I was reading his body language" 
Oh dear, the juror has gone wrong already and unfortunately this extreme stupidity sets the tone for the rest of the jurors reasoning.

NO
he was not reading him he was making it up. He had no way to know anything about the defendants state of mind because it is subjective. 
Unfortunately this comment sets the tone for everything that follows.

The juror also said

" slumped down, doodling on a pad. I was reading his body language, and he just didn’t seem to care about what was going on. I thought, if he doesn’t care, why should we? His attitude seemed to say: Yeah, I did it." 

NO
he had no way to know if he cared or not or what his attitude was because these things are subjective. They only exist in his head and cannot be observed.  The observables mentioned said nothing because you dont know why he was doing thoes things. 

The juror also said

"the friend seemed confident it was 17-year-old Kia Stewart. The friend’s story never changed. He didn’t stutter" 

NO
You he had no way to know how confident the witness is because this is subjective. It only exists in his head and cannot be observed.  The observables (no stuttering)  mentioned tell you nothing because you dont know why he was not stuttering. 

and because of this he convicted the innocent defendant.

it gets worse
once he found out what he had done he said this.

Perhaps the eyewitness was only confident on the stand because he’d rehearsed his lines. And Kia’s body language looked different now. It wasn’t that he didn’t care—he probably felt like he had no chance. He must have felt defeated

Again he has not learned his lesson. He is still telling us what other peoples subjective thoughts were. 

You would think that any person would know that you cannot know what someone else's thought and fealings are because they only exist in his head>
yet here we have some idiot who convicted an innocent person because he did not understand this AND upon learning of his mistake kept showing the same stupidity.
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby atticus » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:49 am

What kind of test would you like to see?

Wasn't the defendant's representation the greater problem in that case?
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby shootist » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:11 am

I believe there is a thread or two about the difference between being innocent in law and whether the defendant actually did the crime. You query the subjective opinions of the juror and yet do not query the sudden and unexpected arrival of a witness five years after the event who gave an alibi. And the 'real killer' was identified as a man with a convincing criminal history who was by now conveniently dead. And, of course, the law students and their professor who were defending the innocent man were incompetent. Who judges that? If they were representing him then it's likely that one of them was a qualified lawyer. If this person is so incompetent then he can hardly be trusted to make a competent judgement of what happened in court, yet because his emotive claptrap appeals to your sense of justice you follow his example.

I wouldn't have the faintest ideas as to whether the trial outcome was right or wrong because I don't know the facts. Neither do you. I might also mention that based upon the limited information given the most important issue if this case had been tried in the UK would be one of identification, upon which there is strict guidance about it's value. Was that raised? If it was, and the hurdles contained within the subject were overcome, was that perhaps not mentioned because the result was inconvenient to the juror's sob story.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." MLK.
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby atticus » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:18 pm

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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby megaman » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:55 pm

atticus wrote:What kind of test would you like to see?

Unfortunately I cant answer that question.
I would like to see jurors tested to ensure they will return a verdict based on a rational evaluation of the evidence provided.
Unfortunately this is impossible because there is no way to define what is rational.
However there are forms of reasoning which are absurd or clearly flawed which should not be aloud.


atticus wrote:Wasn't the defendant's representation the greater problem in that case?

There were problems with the case including an inexperienced and under reasorced defense and a less than thorough police investigation.
However in this case there was only one witnesses and no other evidence against the accused. Frankly nobody should have convicted based on this because there is absolutely no way to corroborate or otherwise test the accuracy of the witnesses statements.
However at the verdict was reached by the minimum aloud majority, this means every single juror who voted to convict can be said to have caused the conviction.

The jurors reasoning was absurd.
Both thinking that he could consider the witness reliable because he didnt stutter and thinking that the defendant was guilty because of his body language was the absolute height of stupidity and in this case it caused a wrongful conviction.
I realize that the juror probably did not know that he is stupid and so could not choose to act in a way which gets around his stupidity (such as deferring his decision to someone else).
But other people should not have to be jepodised by this degree of astonishing stupidity.
It makes me angry both that this could happen and that the defendant wont (lawfully) be able to get any sort of compensation from the juror. or see him punished.
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby megaman » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:06 pm

shootist wrote:I believe there is a thread or two about the difference between being innocent in law and whether the defendant actually did the crime. You query the subjective opinions of the juror and yet do not query the sudden and unexpected arrival of a witness five years after the event who gave an alibi. And the 'real killer' was identified as a man with a convincing criminal history who was by now conveniently dead. And, of course, the law students and their professor who were defending the innocent man were incompetent. Who judges that? If they were representing him then it's likely that one of them was a qualified lawyer. If this person is so incompetent then he can hardly be trusted to make a competent judgement of what happened in court, yet because his emotive claptrap appeals to your sense of justice you follow his example.

I wouldn't have the faintest ideas as to whether the trial outcome was right or wrong because I don't know the facts. Neither do you. I might also mention that based upon the limited information given the most important issue if this case had been tried in the UK would be one of identification, upon which there is strict guidance about it's value. Was that raised? If it was, and the hurdles contained within the subject were overcome, was that perhaps not mentioned because the result was inconvenient to the juror's sob story.


I am aware of all thoes issues.
what upsets me is the jurors stupid and irrational reasoning caused this conviction to happen.

He thought the witness must be have reliable because he never stuttered
he though the defendant was guilty and did not care because he was slouched ect
With the degree of stupidity at play a miscarriage could have happened even without any of the other errors.

Most of the time the defence will have no opportunity to attempt to explain what is wrong with this sort of reasoning because they wont know or wont know until after the trial.
and even if they do get a chance it is likely that any attempt to explain to such an idiot that slouching, stuttering or any other form of body language tell you nothing because you have absolutely no way to know why a person is behaving in those ways would be futile.
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby shootist » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:22 pm

megaman wrote:He thought the witness must be have reliable because he never stuttered


Perhaps that's his way of saying that the witness appeared firm and resolute in giving evidence. That would seem to matter. The alternative might be for the witnesses in a case might reply to questions from another room, out of sight of the court completely, using a terminal to type, or have their answers typed for them, thus avoiding any perceptions of personality shining through.

megaman wrote:he though the defendant was guilty and did not care because he was slouched ect
With the degree of stupidity at play a miscarriage could have happened even without any of the other errors.


Any lawyer worth his salt would tell his client to sit up and look serious in court. Any defendant who is innocent might well have thought of this great idea themselves. Any defendant who of his own free will gives out the impression that he doesn't give a damn is as good as appearing to be admitting his guilt.

megaman wrote:Most of the time the defence will have no opportunity to attempt to explain what is wrong with this sort of reasoning because they wont know or wont know until after the trial. and even if they do get a chance it is likely that any attempt to explain to such an idiot that slouching, stuttering or any other form of body language tell you nothing because you have absolutely no way to know why a person is behaving in those ways would be futile.


Again. Imagine a jury sitting on two trial. In one the accused sits there looking like a couldn't give a damn with an 'FU' attitude. Another sits looking alert, polite, pleasant. That's going to alter perceptions and in doing so might later alter the verdict if it's close.

But it's clear from your posts that it would be simply impossible to convict anyone on the evidence of one witness alone if court operated to your standards. I don't think that's a particularly good option. And without offering even a sniff of an alternative or the beginnings of a solution, I say, and I mean no disrespect, all you are doing is moaning about the system. I also think there is much more that could be done with our legal system before we start trying to introduce mind readers into the process.
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby Russell » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:49 am

100% agree. It's a very important job, that takes a certain skill set. Many people don't even understand the difference between, objective and subjective. That would be the first question...
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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby atticus » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:57 am

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Re: Jurors should be tested

Postby megaman » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:18 am

shootist wrote:
megaman wrote:He thought the witness must be have reliable because he never stuttered


Perhaps that's his way of saying that the witness appeared firm and resolute in giving evidence. That would seem to matter. The alternative might be for the witnesses in a case might reply to questions from another room, out of sight of the court completely, using a terminal to type, or have their answers typed for them, thus avoiding any perceptions of personality shining through.

megaman wrote:he though the defendant was guilty and did not care because he was slouched ect
With the degree of stupidity at play a miscarriage could have happened even without any of the other errors.


Any lawyer worth his salt would tell his client to sit up and look serious in court. Any defendant who is innocent might well have thought of this great idea themselves. Any defendant who of his own free will gives out the impression that he doesn't give a damn is as good as appearing to be admitting his guilt.

megaman wrote:Most of the time the defence will have no opportunity to attempt to explain what is wrong with this sort of reasoning because they wont know or wont know until after the trial. and even if they do get a chance it is likely that any attempt to explain to such an idiot that slouching, stuttering or any other form of body language tell you nothing because you have absolutely no way to know why a person is behaving in those ways would be futile.


Again. Imagine a jury sitting on two trial. In one the accused sits there looking like a couldn't give a damn with an 'FU' attitude. Another sits looking alert, polite, pleasant. That's going to alter perceptions and in doing so might later alter the verdict if it's close.

But it's clear from your posts that it would be simply impossible to convict anyone on the evidence of one witness alone if court operated to your standards. I don't think that's a particularly good option. And without offering even a sniff of an alternative or the beginnings of a solution, I say, and I mean no disrespect, all you are doing is moaning about the system. I also think there is much more that could be done with our legal system before we start trying to introduce mind readers into the process.


The problem is here is that anything to do with a persons mind is completely subjective.
This is an absolute unquestionable fact and since everyone, no matter what their background, has a lifetime of experience of this failing to understand can only mean the person is extremely stupid.

you say that
"Any lawyer worth his salt would tell his client to sit up and look serious in court. Any defendant who is innocent might well have thought of this great idea themselves. Any defendant who of his own free will gives out the impression that he doesn't give a damn is as good as appearing to be admitting his guilt. "

But a lawer should not have to tell a client this because it is completely irrelevant. sitting up tells you nothing about the defendant and anyone who is stupid enough to believe otherwise should not be on a jury because they are not going to try the defendant fairly and frankly they are too stupid to be on a jury.

and no an innocent defendant would not necessarily think of it himself, he has not be of his own free will given out the impression of guilt because anyone who is even minimally intelligent would not even think that his posture tells you anything about his guilt or innocence unless he has specific knowledge that there are people out there who are that stupid. Not everyone has this knowledge.

Yes i do belive that witnesses should only reply to questions from another room, out of sight of the court completely, using a terminal to type. This way juries will be forced to only consider the content of the evidence and not irrelivant factors about the way it is presented.

I think a good test juries should have to go though is being told of a time when a person has said "a persons state of mind was X, he was doing Y"
for example "the defendant didnt care, he was smiling in court, he must have been guilty"
if a potential juror cannot explain what is wrong with a statement like this he should not be on the jury.
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