Approaches to Trial
The request to have trial by a jury or to waive one’s rights to trial by a jury is one of the steps usually followed when it comes to granting a suspect’s rights to due process. The suspect or defendant usually has a right at the preliminary hearing to choose whether or not to allow a judge to decide their fate, or to be subjected to a jury trial, with each approach having its merits and demerits. A bench trial provides a situation that is least vulnerable to human emotion, as well as the best chance of the case against the defendant being tried solely on points of law. The judge, who is usually the sole individual involved in a case is not only a legal professional, but is also bound by oath to remain objective whenever prosecuting or listening to the points intended to either prove innocence or guilt. Further, a bench trial is less likely to be influenced by stereotypes or attitudes regarding certain groups of individuals, as well as past occurrences. On the other hand, jury trials are also usually advantageous, particularly to defendants in some cases, due to the obvious fallibility of human beings. Further, the fact that in order for a verdict to be reached, the decision must be unanimous, means that in most cases where jury trials are involved, all the defense teams need to do is create a sense of doubt (Burns, 2009). It is therefore best to opt for jury trials, especially in the case of defendants with no prior records.
One of the main reasons why a jury trial is the best choice in my opinion, is impartiality, although jurors may develop an attitude towards a defendant at times due to the defendants history, or their background, in most cases jurors are usually influenced by either the prosecutor’s side or the prosecutor’s ability to present evidence, as opposed to certain partial views or interests the judge may have. This degree of impartiality usually stems from the random nature with which the jury is selected, ensuring the representation of all interests, hence giving the defendant the best chance at receiving justice. A jury system also ensures that the public is able to participate, with the jury commonly being representative of the public as well as the public interests. In most cases, juries usually convict not just on the basis of evidence, hence ensuring there is no miscarriage of justice. The main principle behind such endeavors is usually the principle of fairness; a huge majority of juries usually convict if they are convinced that their conviction would be deserved. The lack of knowledge of the law, ensures that most jury trials remain honest, as a majority of the jurors will decide the guilt or innocence of a given defendant solely on the basis of evidence presented, while at the same time deciding based on common values such as honesty (Delmas-Marty, 2002). For law enforcement, jury trials are usually preferable due to the higher sense of accuracy and certainty that usually accompanies jury trials. In most cases, the reduced number of appeals as well as overturned verdicts, translate into a cheaper alternative to bench trials. On the face of it, it is therefore, perhaps undeniable that a jury trial is the best option when it comes to conducting trials.
Burns, R. (2009). The Death of the American Trial. University of Chicago Press.
Delmas-Marty, M. (2002).European Criminal Procedure. Cambridge University Press.