Baldwin_03-1995
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Jury-Rigging

Throughout our legal history we are familiar with incidents of jury-tampering, the act of buying off or frightening one or more of the 12 men good and true called upon to decide a case. This is done to predetermine a verdict, usually to assure a "not guilty." We have heard of vicious gangsters, corrupt union bosses, and crooked politicians conspiring to rig juries. But who has ever heard of a jury rigging itself? Recently I served on one attempting to do just that. Not for money nor from blackmail. More subtle pressures obtained, psychological pressures, emotional pressures, moral pressures.

The question of jury psychology has long attracted attention (recall the film Twelve Angry Men), but never more than today, when we have famous cases involving the likes of Rodney King, Reginald Denny, the Menendez brothers, and John and Lorena Bobbitt. Court TV is there to bring them to us live and uncensored. Mesmerized, we watch the acquittals roll in: Not Guilty, Not Guilty, Hung Jury, Not Guilty by reason of temporary insanity—take six weeks in a clinic. And we sit bewildered, as the latest crime statistics are published. Yes, they are skyrocketing, but not to worry: the citizenry is astir and congressmen are introducing federal legislation. This month's crime bill will pass and become law. And so there will be even more cases for juries to decide. How will they decide them?

How should they decide them?...

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