July 7, 2011

More on juries

A lawyer writes:
As a basic rule, a prosecutor's ideal juror is a conservative white person without a college degree.  They're generally pro-prosecution, but unlike conservative, educated white people, they're not smart enough to sniff out a bogus prosecution.  Liberal, educated white people can go either way -- it depends a lot on the case.  On some crimes, they're a prosecutor's nightmare, but on, say, DWI, they're generally favorable.  And, if you're talking about liberal, educated white women, they can be a defense attorney's nightmare in something like the Scott Peterson case (or a rape case.) 
A defense attorney's ideal juror is poor, uneducated, and a minority -- i.e., somebody who will probably sympathize with the defendant.  Also, while uneducated white people aren't smart enough to sniff out the b.s. that a prosecutor feeds them, uneducated minorities tend to go the same way for the defense -- they'll believe almost any alternative theory that the defense attorney feeds them, no matter how bogus it might seem to a smarter person.. 


21 comments:

eh said...

I've always regarded the 'jury of peers' concept as something like an inside joke.

bgc said...

Voting is the problem

The problem of juries (however constituted) is both the origin, and a sub-set of, the major problem of using committee voting as a means of decision making - indeed the ultimate mechanism in The West.

(Juries, democracy, the supreme court, all parliaments, every large organization... all underpinned by a group vote.)

(The Roman Catholic Church is the only significant exception - well done The Pope!)

Where on earth did people get the idea that voting is a good, or even acceptable, method of decision making?

Yet voting is nowadays regarded as the only authoritative basis for societal decisions

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/08/evils-of-voting.html

(Except, of course, when it isn't - but the answer then is just to keep trying, keep voting, until it is.)

Anonymous said...

Stupidly letting people go free is a lot better than stupidly convicting innocent people.

If I ever get charged with a crime I hope to hell it's either in an affluent white area or in an urban ghetto. If you're in a lower class white area you're basically fucked.

Score one for ignorant minorities! They have ignorant white people beat on this one.

K(yle) said...

"Where on earth did people get the idea that voting is a good, or even acceptable, method of decision making?"

The idea was originally the sharing of power, and hence responsibility for decision making. Such as a peerage, the electors of the Holy Roman Emperor, et cetera.

From the perspective of forcing accountability and ensuring compliance from powerful entities it makes sense. I want all of my fellow Barons to have a say in who is King to avoid a succession crisis. Not because I think they have anything valuable to offer, I just want it in writing and in front of witnesses that this new King is their King. That's not how modern Democracy works though. Voters are unaccountable (as well as those they elect really).

Near as I can tell, the problem of too many noble sons wanting power is the origin of modern democracy. The expansive bureaucracy and officer corps packed with 3rd and 4th sons vying for power and spreading the meme that this kind of collective decision making was both effective and morally good rather than a vast nepotistic scheme. That meme had legs apparently.

"Score one for ignorant minorities! They have ignorant white people beat on this one."

I'm dubious that an uneducated black jury would be that trigger-happy to acquit a white guy. 'Ignorant minorities' are more likely to buy the defense's line, but in a violent crime that defendant is 3 times out 4 going to be a black male anyway.

Rrrrrroger said...

A lawyer writes: "a prosecutor's ideal juror is a conservative white person without a college degree. They're generally pro-prosecution, but unlike conservative, educated white people, they're not smart enough to sniff out a bogus prosecution." Yeah. Prosecutors often run out of guilty people, so they have to run "bogus prosecutions" against the innocent. I think the "conservative, educated white people" that this lawyer thinks so highly of may actually be conservative in their secret thoughts, but not in any public action. In high school and college their had implanted into their brains that loud, loud voice that yells "That's racist!!" at any thought that might arise tainted with common sense. And besides, they have other ways of protecting themselves from criminals, mostly geographic. Working class whites are more likely to act on their actual beliefs. And they may have to live near the criminals the lawyer wants out of jail and out in the world committing crimes. (I doubt very much that even this lawyer sincerely believes in his "bogus prosecutions" theory.) As Mr. Sailer points out some of these "educated" white people will act on their common sense in matters affecting their own lives, but some won't even do that.

Black Death said...

I served on a jury once. The case involved a seriously injured, highly sympathetic young female plaintiff. She claimed her injuries resulted from her employment. Her employer, a well known national chain, denied her claim, so she sued. This was in Texas, where the judge does voir dire. The case involved some complicated medical issues, so the judge put three doctors and a nurse on the jury. We quickly found for the defendant, a verdict which surprised everyone, since the plaintiff was so sympathetic and the defendant so impersonal. But I still think we got it right.

Anonymous said...

These rules of thumb may or may not be significantly inferior to the claims of persons providing for steep fees juror profiling in order to advise defense attorneys (especially) about strikes.
It's a big bucks service and it appears to have done well for years and years.

James Kabala said...

"The Roman Catholic Church is the only significant exception - well done The Pope!"

Ah, but how does the Pope get elected?

Anonymous said...

"Where on earth did people get the idea that voting is a good, or even acceptable, method of decision making?

Yet voting is nowadays regarded as the only authoritative basis for societal decisions"

If you want to see how voting is NOT accepted as a "good, or even acceptable, method of decision making" just come here to California where the State Supreme Court, quite liberal, overturns the "will of the people" on a regular basis, my friend. Their decisions sure haven't helped keep CA out of the dumpster, but they *have* grown the contempt for authority and the judicial system. (And, even though we can't see it clearly manifested yet, I do think it is undermining liberalism as a governing philosophy, hopefully.)

Paul said...

I have been called up for jury duty several times. All I do is wear my best interview suit, white shirt and a "power tie" in whatever color is popular at the moment.

Defense throws me out every time.

Anonymous said...

bgc: Given certain conditions being met, voting is actually an excellent way to get a right answer. See: Condorcet Jury Theorem

Dahlia said...

It's posts like this that keep me coming back. Please publish your lawyer reader more! I also second bgc.

Anonymous,
Don't be so angry; nobody wants a system that results in more false negatives. It is only natural and human to be upset about grave injustice and work toward alleviating it.

BTW, a peek inside the mind of alternate juror, Russell Huekler:

Mr Huekler said the lack of physical evidence that the two-year-old was murdered outweighed the circumstantial evidence of Casey Anthony's lies and behaviour in the month before Caylee's disappearance was reported to police.

'Yeah, the behavior was bizarre, but what I took from that is that the family was very dysfunctional.

Because they were so dysfunctional, that was the norm for them,' Mr Huekler told Good Morning America.

'Casey didn't just start lying for the first 31 days [after Caylee disappeared]. She had been lying for the past two years...I felt it was the norm for her.'

Mr Huekler added that he and the jury only saw evidence that Anthony was a good mother.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2011857/Casey-Anthony-trial-verdict-Jurors-felt-sick-stomachs-accused-cleared.html#ixzz1RRFzM5mU

Seriously.

Not My Peers said...

Here's a quick pop psychological checklist to profile people's temperments.

Perhaps cosmetic surgery has blurred some of the distinctions like the thin-lipped Nazi vs the thick lipped empath.

Anonymasaurus Rex said...

"Where on earth did people get the idea that voting is a good, or even acceptable, method of decision making?"

The problem is not with voting, per se, but with the fanciful deception of "one man, one vote," as though each and every adult citizen deserves an equal say despite how he may or may not contribute to society.

The notion that those who serve in the military, who work for a living, who are raising children, who are well-informed, who abide by the law, or who have generations-long ties to this nation should only have the same amount of say as those who are the opposite, is destructive.

"One man, one vote" is certainly not how businesses operate, where a man with a single share does not have the same say as him with a thousand shares. But "one man, one vote" is the water we swim in, what we're brainwashed to believe from an early age, and so we'd all regard anything else as heresy.

Anonymous said...

@ James Kabala 7/7 8:44:

"Ah, but how does the Pope get elected?"

By the College of Cardinals. In other words, by a group of nobles, not by mass Catholic voting. :)

Anonymous said...

Classic MacGrub.... Errr Sailer

People should be ashamed if they're not donating some cash a least once a year to this site

Dan in DC

James Kabala said...

Anonymous: I was mainly being a wiseacre, but I did get the impression that bgc dislikes voting of any kind, whether by a small group or the whole people.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I was quite happily on a jury - wanted to see what it was like, no need to do it again. I was also impressed with the lack of intelligence in the room. One woman chided me, quite irritated "Even the prosecutor admitted the police hadn't asked him the questions the right way!" (Uh, no. That was the defense atto0rney who had claimed that. The difference matters, lady.)

Anonymous said...

For all the problems you've described, the jury pool room is probably the place where you can get the most representative sample of adult citizens in one single place, because people are chosen at random instead of self-selecting to be there, and (in many places) they basically have to go. If you want to do face-to-face surveys the jury room is going to be more representative than the shopping mall, in which case your sample will anyway contain people too dumb to get out of the way of someone waving a clipboard.

My challenge to Sailer readers: where could you go besides a jury room to get a more representative sample in one place?

elvisd said...

"My challenge to Sailer readers: where could you go besides a jury room to get a more representative sample in one place?"

One of the points that the Amars (of the Findlaw website) have pointed out, preemptive strikes have made this no longer true. Jury shopping and striking out the educated (e.g. for being "biased" because they happen to have read the newspaper) leave juries increasingly to the clueless. Limiting such strikes and changes of venue, they argue, will help restore the idea of the jury of a microcosm of society at large, and help restore a sense of citizenship. Would it work? Wouldn't hurt to try.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

My challenge to Sailer readers: where could you go besides a jury room to get a more representative sample in one place?"

There is nothing wrong with the raw jury pool. The problem is that only a carefully selected subset of the people in that jury room ever make it to a jury. The Voir Dire process excludes a lot of people who SHOULD be on juries, precisely because they have better judgement.