Friday, July 08, 2011

Court Innings

Some thoughts generated by the verdicts in the Casey Anthony and O J Simpson trials: Marathon presentations of arguments, evidence and courtroom frictions do not sit well with sequestered juries. They must sit through long days, weeks and months of this with no opportunity to discuss the merits until the drama is ended.

By that time they are so emotionally beaten-up that there is no desire to do prolong the proceedings further and so they end it preemptively and return to their families. Few other areas of human endeavor are so primitive and failure prone.

Changes are needed. There need to be timing restrictions and opportunities to evaluate the evidence and potential verdict much before the end. Every other contest has a scoring protocol that allows the participants and spectators to know who is winning and who is losing.

The baseball innings model might work. Limit each side's daily direct, cross, and arguments to three hours. Give the jury one hour daily to evaluate the presented evidence/arguments and one hour to present their convictions and leanings to the judge. Then, assuming no unanimity, the judge, conferring with the attorneys decides whether to go another day or inning. And so it goes until there is either a unanimous or blocked decision. Seems like it reduces the chance of the big surprise gotcha and keeps the jury involved and committed. It can also keep the jury on track and focused on the evidence. I'm jes sayin'.
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