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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Judge and jury

One of my classes this week was on the American legal system --just the spare basics of what happens in a trial. Almost all of the students thought that, as in China, the judge decides who is innocent or guilty. They were fascinated by the idea of a jury - average people making this decision? They aren't experts, so how can they make the right decisions? How are they picked? What if they don't want to do it?

They were all incredulous that the jury decision has to be unanimous -what if one person is an idiot? One student, whose name is "Sunny Bright", said "maybe that's why the crime rate is so high in the US." Another asked, "Doesn't this make the jury susceptible to bribing?"

I explained that this is one of the most basic of rights in England and the US, going back 700 years, but they didn't seem to be impressed. The unanimity part really bothered them.

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