* The "Preferred" Juror - A Puppet of The Judge *
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Los Angeles, California March 6, 2003The "Preferred" Juror-A Puppet of The JudgeThat juror would be capable of heeding most strictlythe judge's admonition to decide the case on the basis ofthe evidence presented in court and nothing else.-Harry Rosenfeld, EditorFollowing is an article published a year ago in the New York Times Union about what the "justice" system expects a juror to be. Below the article is a commentary by Ron Loeber, New York JAILer-In-Chief, valortoo@...Informed public helps systemTimes Union ~ Albany, NY ~ Sunday, March 3, 2002When state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi issued a "very strong, strict cautionary" in mid-February to defense and plaintiffs attorneys, he said he wanted to make sure that he would be able to find impartial jurors for the three cases before him arising from allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. He also worried about cases that could come to trial in the future.
His initial 13-page instruction applied to lawyers and apparently to witnesses, including victims and interested parties, to keep them from speaking out publicly. The Albany Diocese making public its disciplining a priest for cause could have fallen under the ban.
As such, his action appeared to be unique among the current spate of legal actions throughout the country connected with charges of sexual misconduct by clergy with minors. In no other jurisdiction had a judge gone that far, as best as could be ascertained.
Since then, the justice in response to a letter from a defense attorney asking for clarification limited his cautionary to the traditional rules governing the conduct of lawyers. Nothing was said about witnesses.
Whoever is included at this stage in the cautionary (its exact scope remains unclear), the likelihood of finding a jury that would not be somewhat acquainted with allegations of clerical abuse seems more than remote. The question really is whether such a "virgin" jury is necessary or even particularly desirable.
Under a certain (and arguably patronizing) view of a perfect jury, people exposed to information about a pending case, whether too much of the good kind (factual) or the bad kind ("rumor, gossip and innuendo") would not be able to properly execute their juror's oath. Taking it to its logical implications, then, the ideal juror would be a person who had neither read, heard nor seen any TV about the matter at trial.
In our day, that means someone so shut out from interest in the life of the community that he or she would not have cared enough to become informed in the least way about such a compelling and heart-wrenching matter as the shocking misbehavior of clergy.
Such an indifferent person should, in fact, be among the least qualified to serve on a jury. He or she would be either a dolt, incapable of discerning grievous wrongdoing, or alienated from the rest of the world, lacking even the minimal empathy required to live successfully among others.
Society is best served if most people are not turned off or uncaring about what is happening in their community. Most people do take an interest when allegations of this sort attain a general credibility, whether it impacts them directly or not.
Especially given the adversarial nature of the justice system, an informed, engaged and intelligent person should constitute the preferred juror. That juror would be capable of heeding most strictly the judge's admonition to decide the case on the basis of the evidence presented in court and nothing else. That juror would have the sophistication and the savvy to keep whatever he or she may have heard, read or seen about the case from interfering with the juror's sworn oath.
A long-ago event, Watergate, was exposed by intensive media coverage over many months of allegations of wrongdoing at the highest level of government. It was those news reports that set in motion the wheels of justice, even though in time they would amount to a superabundance of pretrial publicity.
Despite the barrage of news coverage, several juries were impaneled and able to render justice. No one was deprived of a fair trial. If the accused in Watergate could get fair trials, then it also should be possible to discover fair-minded jurors in Albany County today.
A fair public trial is the cornerstone of American justice. Public engagement with important matters before they come to trial would seem to be a contributing ingredient. If witnesses and potential witnesses were to be silenced by the court, then those with legitimate complaints could be intimidated from coming forward and speaking out.
In cases such as these, some of the claims will be fraudulent; others will involve genuine victims too afraid to speak out before. The justice system, with an interested and informed public looking on, will sort out the allegations.
Harry Rosenfeld is editor-at-large of the Times Union. His e-mail address is hrosenfeld@........ I want you to think about the term "jury of your peers" for a moment. If you think about what this country was like when the term was first used, then you have to come to the conclusion those "peers" were intended to be people in your own community; people who were familiar with you; knew you; knew your family; knew your character. That was who sat in judgment of you... and it worked... for decades. It was understood by all that jurors had an awesome responsibility and your "peers" would vote their consciences and not their prejudices. After all, under the Form of Government in which we live, no one may be convicted without the consent of the people... a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.Now think about what happens today with use of the device they call voir dire. Voir dire is a game played by government guys called lawyers and judges to select jurors who are NOT your "peers"... jurors who do not know you, do not know your family, do not know you character. Voir dire is a game played by lawyers and judges to select jurors who will do as they are told in the instructions to the jury as given by the judge. The jury selected for the trial of the 4 cops who shot Amadou Diallo said after the trial that based upon the "instructions" of this same Judge Teresi, they had to find the cops Not Guilty even though they felt it was the wrong thing to do.Joe Teresi "...said he wanted to make sure that he would be able to find impartial jurors for the three cases before him...." Let's think about that for a moment. The Diallo trial was moved from NYC to Albany because the courts determined the cops could not get a fair trial as a result of the newspaper coverage. Said another way, all of the awesome power and resources of government could not find 12 honest people in a city of 8,000,000. Now Joe Teresi is saying that if the newspapers do their job, he may not be able to convene three honest responsible juries in the very Capital of the Empire State with all of the awesome power and resources of government behind him. Is the Empire losing its power? Yeah... right. Give me a break.Judge Teresi's Order in the case against the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese is the first step in ensuring the voir dire game will be played with the desired result; the selection of jurors who live with their hands over their ears, eyes, and mouth... and will follow his instructions. New York had a monumental problem with the killing of Amadou Diallo and good ole Joe Teresi solved it with a Not Guilty verdict on all charges... and all lesser included charges... against all four defendants. Joe Teresi is about to solve the problem for the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, too. Joe Teresi is the problem-solver for those who wield power and influence... and it doesn't matter if he has to violate someone's rights to do it. After all, he is one of the Chosen who enjoys the protection of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, AKA, judicial immunity.Ron LoeberNYJAIL4JudgesPO Box 193Knox, NY 12107
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