The role of the judge and jury in complex trials
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This thesis examines the mode of trial concerns in the U.S.A., New York State, California, England and Wales and Canada --specifically the ability of the jury to comprehend complex cases and the perception/reality that bench trials may not be as fair as jury trials. Defining complex cases as those involving serious fraud indictments, capital murder trials, and lawsuits or indictments against corporations and their managers, the thesis examines problems associated with jury trials in such cases. It evaluates the comparative law and customs and practices regarding the use of juries, emphasizing problems with jury selection, deficits in jury deliberation and post trial problems associated with jury verdicts. The thesis also evaluates the judge only trial, attempting to determine whether a state imposed non jury trial in a criminal case as is presently proposed in the England and Wales Parliament creates an unfairness to the defendant because bench trials significantly differ from jury trials in the application of the rules of evidence and in the role of the judge. The thesis reports on the results of a survey of New York State trial judges, a like survey of New York State lawyers, and the opinions of nine England and Wales judges authorized to try serious fraud cases who were interviewed regarding these issues. The surveys and interviews finds that there is a high degree of support for jury verdicts expressed by the judges, examines evidentiary and pretrial practices in both modes of trial and attempts to evaluate whether claims of procedural flaws and prejudice in bench trials by respected academics are accurate. The thesis concludes by affirming the competence of juries to try complex cases, proposing modifications to post jury verdict procedures to evaluate jury misconduct and advocating that the bench trial evidentiary rules and conduct rules become comparable to the jury trial. The thesis recommends that mode of trial choices be given to the defendant, advocates that when a bench trial is selected that peremptory challenges of the trial judge be permitted and postulates that these reforms will make the bench trial a more attractive alternative to the jury trial in complex cases
AuthorsJulian, Robert F
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