Thursday, February 06, 2003

James Bernard writes: "To the extent that juries are selected, certainly the system could be corrupted or "morally debased.". For example, the pool of potential jurors
could be manipulated (by a county clerk or an evil judge, for example). Peremptory challenges could be used to illegally discriminate based upon race or other haracteristics To the extent, further, that jury selection devolves into gamesmanship between the parties involved, that morally debases a system of selection that would, under best conditions, yield a random sample of local individuals."

I get nervous at inherently subjective terms like"morally debased," simply because that term means different things to different people. But the realm of jury selection is a relatively even playing field for each side. While there is "gamesmanship" on both sides as to the composition of a panel, the bottom line is that you just don't know what you've got till they return a verdict. So, it'a all voodoo to a large extent.

The more salient point is that the entire litigation is gamesmanship. The theory of lawsuits is that both sides do their jobs, theoretically just as zealously and competently, and justice will result in the form of the jury's verdict. Practice may differ from theory in individual cases, but the theoreticians would argue that, looking at the system as a whole, there is substantial justice. I'm not sure I agree, having seen some wacky jury verdicts and judicial opinions in my time, but that's the theory, anyway.