Fixing the Engine of Justice: Diagnosis and Repair of Our Jury System
David Tunno’s work is subtitled Diagnosis and Repair of Our Jury System. His career was as a trial consultant, advising on jury selections, and as a media commentator for high profile cases. Humor leavens the material well; the writing is lucid and easy to follow. A few typos don’t trouble continuity.
Centrally, this is a work of opinion, and an advancement of ideas to fix the system in the directions the author wants to see it go. Having made his living from manipulating and commenting upon the jury system, one would expect, and receives, arguments and concepts that strengthen and preserve it, rather than ones to minimize or avoid it. The core of his opinion set is the conviction, well supported, that jury duty is far more of a duty than a right.
Tunno decries the way hardship exclusions tend to burden some segments of the population more than others, limiting the backgrounds, educations, and expertise sets of participants. Suggested fixes: rating jurors by questionnaire, more strict interpretations of “hardship,” stiff penalties for shirking (at one point litter-picking community service is advanced), increased pay for jurors to limit financial duress, Jury Insurance, and prolonged relief from summoning for anyone who has served in a long trial.
Jury nullification is given a thoroughly researched debunking, though Mr. Tunno points out that a juror fronted with truly unjust law might be compelled by conscience to employ nullification openly, accepting the legal penalties, as in any ethical exercise of civil disobedience.
Another, rather radical, concept to unburden the system is video trials, wherein retired judges might utilize after-hours-vacant school space, oversee testimony onto video media, then forward testimony to the actual trial judge and jury, eliminating the time and confusion costs of sidebars and directions to disregard.
A fascinating, knowledgeable exploration!