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Trial by jury: an integral “check” on our system

A recent editorial by Ken Connor published in the Center for a Just Society delved into a heavy and interesting topic – the public opinion of jury trials following the acquittal of Casey Anthony in the murder charge of her child. As Mr. Connor pointed out, many of those individuals who watched the trial on TV and were not constrained from taking into consideration the mounds of inadmissible evidence or the overwhelming public sentiment against Ms. Anthony have been audibly critical of the jury’s verdict. The indignation of TV personas Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly have loudly shared the sentiment of those feeling that the not guilty verdict represents a gross miscarriage of justice.

As Chicago personal injury lawyers, our attorneys are frequently defending our nation’s right to a jury trial. Cases like this one call the value of trial by jury into question for some people. But, some critics need to take some important points into consideration. Here, in our great country, an accused wrongdoer is presumed innocent and the burden lies on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Where Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are concerned, the plaintiffs must prove liability by a preponderance of evidence. The jury, unlike those of us who just play jury by watching television, is not permitted to consider evidence that does not reach a certain level of reliability and they are not permitted to take into account matters outside the evidence. They cannot discuss the case amongst themselves or even form an opinion about the case until all of the evidence is in. Once the evidence is in, they cannot discuss the case with anyone other than their fellow jurors. If any reasonable doubt exists about the crimes charged, they cannot convict. The charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

As we are aware, trial by jury is not a recent phenomenon. This dates back way prior to the advent of television personas such as Nancy Grace. Its use has been documented in a variety of civilizations and the right to trial by jury has been particularly prominent in the American system of law and justice.

Read more about this important right to trial by jury by visiting Center for a Just Society.