Dear Dr. Arnet:
I cannot begin to tell you how I am feeling after finding your article (The Informed Juror, Issue No. 82).
I’ve been a court reporter for 34 years and have felt sick about it for 34 years.
I’ve ostracized my reporter colleagues as I am the only one who is sensitive to defendant rights and have always found the jury system as it exists today to be fraught with deception and trickery.
I see prosecutors and courts in a conspiracy to deprive Americans of their rights in today’s system of meting out justice in order to fill the already overflowing private/public prisons with free labor for rich and powerful corporations and to “get rid of” people who are not white and not wealthy.
I feel sick when I see a jury given scant evidence, untruthful evidence, and the jury returns with a guilty verdict because of it.
I feel sick when I juries are given absurdly written, incomprehensible, idiotic jury instructions read at a pace so fast many times the words are misheard.
It’s ghastly that juries are not allowed to take the written instructions, as incomprehensible as they may be, back to the jury room.
Juries are always prohibited from having the evidence in the jury room.
Juries are so unaware that they are being hoodwinked from the get-go. Every time a recess is called, all manner of proceedings take place on the record out of the presence of the jury so that the jury deliberates the case never knowing the phenomenal amount of evidence they didn’t get to hear.
In every trial I ever reported, the jury is told they must return a verdict of guilty if they find so and so, even though they do not agree with the law.
Juries don’t understand that once they pronounce the defendant guilty a sentence is then passed by a court that more than likely has a prosecutorial background and prosecutorial leanings. They don’t understand that lobbyists in the country representing rich and powerful corporations lobby the courts for severe, stiff, long, harsh, inhumane sentences and that it is likely that the defendant they find guilty will serve such a sentence.
On and on and on and on.
And the statement by the court I hate to hear the most is, “Members of the jury, our systems is not perfect, but it is the best in the world.”
It’s not the best in the world. It’s by far one of the worst.
The U.S. has more prisoners than any other country in the world.
The U.S. still has the death penalty.
A jury of one’s peers in America is a very scary proposition in this time in the world. I dare say very, very few Americans are my peers.
I found your article while in search of the very information I was looking for for an article I am putting together called “The Enlightened Juror – Serving on a criminal jury in the U.S.” I had no idea that what I have been intuiting all of these many years actually existed until now.
I am writing the article as part of a support group for Jose Barco, railroaded by the Colorado Springs Police Department into one of the “Filthy Four” courts in Colorado, El Paso County, Judge Larry Schwartz. He was given a 52 year sentence that he is presently serving in the BVCF in Colorado. He’s 24 and won’t be eligible for parole until he is 56 years old.
The jury filed an affidavit with the court immediately after their deliberations stating their confusion about the instructions given and that two of the jurors demanded to leave so they could return to work the next day. The prosecutor manipulated the facts in closing and through state’s witnesses who should be charged with perjury.
You can learn about Jose at www.veteransresourceforjustice.org or going to Frontline’s “The Wounded Platoon” where his story is chronicled.