The Right To A Free Trial in America

Essay by Greg JohnsonUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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One of the most important freedoms in the American judicial system is the right to a jury trial. This allows a minimum of six Americans, chosen from a list of registered voters, to determine a person's guilt or innocence through deliberations. They have the power to express the conscious of society as well as interpret and judge the laws themselves. If they feel that a law is unconstitutional, evil, or even unfair they can void it for the circumstance by declaring the defendant not-guilty. The power of the jury is enormous and through time has become more equitable by decreasing the limitations to become a juror including race and sex. Part of the reasoning behind the right to a jury trial is to limit government power. Although judges should be fair and just, total power is too strong, and could be used to aid some people while harming others. As someone once said, "Power corrupts sometimes, but absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Many people thought anarchy would form through the use of a jury system, but no such thing has occurred. It has produced a feeling of involvement in the judicial system and government itself. Throughout this essay, a comparison of a real jury, a simulated jury, and Hollywood's perception of a jury will be discussed. The television special, Inside the Jury Room, showed a videotaping of a real life jury as seen in a small criminal courtroom. The case was Wisconsin v. Leroy Reed, a criminal trial for the possession of a firearm by an ex-convict. The simulated jury concerned an ex-military man who shot two police officers, killing one and seriously injuring another. The police had broken into his house because there was probable cause to believe he had drugs. The man shot the officers because he thought they...