9 November 2010
“Should Jury Verdicts Always be Unanimous in a Criminal Trial?” The inadequacies of our government and our judicial system have long been a subject for debate, and now many are debating why unanimous jury verdicts are required in criminal trials. In United States v. Lopez they say: A rule which insists on unanimity furthers the deliberative process by requiring the minority view to be examined and if possible, accepted or rejected by the entire jury. The requirement of jury unanimity thus has a precise effect on the fact-finding process, one which gives particular significance and conclusiveness to the jury’s verdict. This is the perfect way of describing the democracy of our judicial system that was instilled upon us by our founding fathers and why jury verdicts in criminal trials should always be unanimous.
There are many arguments for what the rule should be. Consider the money, effort and release of guilty people because a crafty lawyer twists facts to persuade just one of 12 people that there is something wrong with the case? However, these costs seem to be outweighed by the value we gain from the unanimous verdict system. It really seems like a small price to pay when the alternative is potentially locking away an innocent person which is like stealing someone’s life. The requirement structures deliberations in ways that are consistent with our democratic ideals and enhances the sense of legitimacy that attaches to criminal verdicts. (Bove, 259-260) One would think that if it were difficult to achieve unanimity that the jurors would only have to continue deliberating the case. This would give the jurors a greater insight into other sides and possibly even help them gain a greater perspective on the subject. This could lead to jurors changing their vote, but it would generally be for the better because the more insight you have minus anyone’s possible prejudices, the less likely a group is of making a poor decision. A process as...
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