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Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Should we have blue ribbon juries and judges for trying cases that relate to really tough issues such as scientific or genetic questions, or issues like GMOs, or does that violate the trial by your peers idea?

Asked by Adirondackwannabe (33575 points ) March 1st, 2014

For tough issues that involve concepts that may be beyond the average joe on the street, like genetics, GMOs, environmental things, pollution, etc, should we have special juries screened for their understanding of these issues or should we use anyone off the street, regardless of their ability to understand the issues? Is this an example of elitist thinking? Or reality.

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8 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Fun fact: nothing in the US Constitution guarantees you a trial by your peers. The idea is a holdover from British common law and originally protected lords from being tried by commoners (though it also protected commoners from being tried by lords). The idea that we have a right to be tried by a jury of our peers did not obtain the force of law in the United States until the Supreme Court decided Strauder v. West Virginia in 1880. Even then, however, the principle was based on the Sixth Amendment guarantee to an impartial jury, and cases that have cited Strauder as a precedent have only done so when a jury’s composition suggested bias. Nothing in US law, then, prohibits people from counting as peers just because they are experts. What matters is only their ability to meet the constitutional requirement of impartiality.

ibstubro's avatar

“Elitist” is what came to my head when I read your question. (No offense, we’re on the same page.)

I think the problem is that the laws should be made by blue ribbon lawmakers and panelists.

Enforcement is up to a jury of your (like minded) peers.

What if f the laws were given the scrutiny of a jury?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro I think the idea of making every law subject to a public referendum—which would be essentially equivalent to a trial by jury—is a very interesting one. The only question for me is where we set the bar for overturning an existing law. Simple majority seems a bit too precarious, but the jury standard of unanimity is obviously too restrictive. Perhaps it could be done along similar lines to the amendment process, though.

As for enforcement being up to a jury of your peers, I wonder if “elite” juries might actually go for jury nullification more often than standard juries, not least because they might be more educated as to the situations in which it can be used.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Honestly I’m increasingly less and less in favor of a jury selected from the general populace. I’d much rather see juries comprised of people who are educated at least in the law. Perhaps trials should be decided by a panel of judges rather than jurors.

ibstubro's avatar

I think there are other countries you can move to, @Darth_Algar.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m thinking overturning would be at least ⅔, if not ¾, @SavoirFaire. If the law passed the majority the first time, it should be sound.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro Agreed. It has to be some sort of supermajority. I lean more towards ¾, which is similar to amending the Constitution. This leaves the question of whether federal laws should require ¾ of the total population to overturn, or perhaps just a majority (or even a ⅔ supermajority) in ¾ of the states. I can see problems with both options, but I lean a bit more towards the latter.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@ibstubro

Why should I leave my country?

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