Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
I hadn’t heard about this case. It’s a bad decision.
A jury of one’s peers that deliberates in secret is fundamental to the American system of justice. Every other system is subject to corruption and undue influence that deprives the defendant of a fair chance at an impartial verdict.
The defendant has an opportunity to investigate jury members before they are seated, to question them through voir dire, and to strike for cause any potential juror who reveals prejudice. If the strike-for-cause motion is denied, the defense still gets to strike jurors without cause, using preemptory strikes.
Invading the sanctity of the jury room to second-guess the jury’s motivations after the fact is a terrible precedent. It opens the door to second-guess everything that happens in the jury room and throw out verdicts that result from the “wrong” deliberations. That precedent strikes directly at the heart of secret deliberations. They’re no longer secret anymore.
There could be a host of reasons the jury didn’t acquit the defendant: they ignored the judge’s instructions, they misapplied the law, they hated the defense attorney’s tie, they resented the defendant forcing them to burn up their personal leave days listening to his pathetic lies . . . and none of those are grounds to overturn the jury verdict.
But if we allow the defense to second-guess the jury as to racial animus, then you know the next thing will be defendants wanting to second-guess jurors who may have been influenced by sex, religion, disability, veteran’s status, receipt of public assistance, gender orientation . . . and why stop there? What if a jury member voted for Trump, clear evidence of raging hatred and mental illness? Now we need thought police stationed in the jury room to make sure the secret deliberations come out right, the way right-thinking persons want them to come out, which is exactly what a jury is supposed to prevent.
Here’s another illustration of that new Berg’s Law: Liberal Policies Destroy Liberal Values.
It may actually be one of the better candidates for a Berg’s Law we’ve seen in a while.