Justice in the Court Room
When a person comes into the courtroom to be judged the concept of getting justice comes into play. This concept starts from the fact that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. The jury which consists of a group of people who listen to the trial at the end decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent. The fact is while this method may seem to be impartial it usually is not. The jury members consist of people who have certain pre-conceived beliefs and these beliefs do play an active part in their final decision. [BERKOWITZ, 1981]
The court through its rules does try to create an impartial jury through a mixed group of inter-racial jurors from different backgrounds but the fact is biases will always be present. Policy makers have suggested that the group of jurors should consist of only racial minorities or at least certain seats reserved for racial minorities. This comes presumably from the fact that many of the inmates in jail are from mixed races and this could be due to the prejudice of the jury. The advocates hope for a more impartial jury but would that be the case? Take the case of OJ Simpson, his jury was a set of mixed races with the majority being minority races. The high profile case was seen and heard throughout the world and there is still doubt that justice was served. Various members of the jury it was later seen, believed that at times physical force against the family was acceptable. This is a cultural notion. Some believed athletes of such high profile could not be criminals, an economic and social bias.
A jury should consist simply of people from different backgrounds, socially, economically, culturally and politically. [Van Dyke, 1977] It does not matter which group of race they belong too. Having too many people from minority races in the jury will have its own drawbacks. Their cultural and social values will vary and so will their biases. The best bet would be to create a law that allows a jury to be as mixed as possible, not only racially.
Removing majority race jurors from the jury would not be an effective legislation. What is needed is a jury with diverse opinions. Majority race jurors would have their own opinions and would serve to create a balance in the jury which may otherwise be limited through its own minority culture.
Jurors should be chosen on the basis of their race, culture, political and social beliefs and economic background. The more diverse the jury the more impartial it will be for when the time comes to make a decision the jury will have to converge their different beliefs and come to one conclusion. That may be difficult but it would be as impartial as we as humans can make it. [Hans and Vidmar, 2005]
1. BERKOWITZ, L (ed), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 14 (Academic Press, 1981).
2. Hans, Valerie P. and Neil Vidmar, Judging the Jury, New York: Plenum, (2005).
3. Van Dyke, Jon M., Jury Selection Procedures: Our Uncertain Commitment to Representative Panels, Ballinger, Cambridge, Mass. (1977).