While trial by jury has been a component of our justice system since early on, changes and reforms that have gone on in the justice institution have avoided perceived implications of change in the jury venue. Just within recent years have individual jurisdictions allowed procedural changes such as juror’s taking notes during the trial.
Not until recently, and with the aid of a few pioneering judges, has the possibility of conveying decision-making skills to juries become a reality. The skill set and the learning delivery system have been established in the business sector for nearly twenty years. It just took a former presiding juror with an understanding of the skills, delivery and needs of the jury to pull it together and then test it by trial along with those first risk-taking jurists.
Initially, only the juror’s felt the effect of no preparation on how to deal with a mountain of construed information. They are left on their own to work out ways to determine a trial outcome within a myriad of interpretations, biases and emotions of other jurors. Thus when offered an alternative aid, this systematic framework for thorough discussion of both sides of a case, the juries realized a solution to wandering discussion, efficient use of time and argumentative conflict due to any bias existed.
The underlying principle is that the Fair and Just Deliberations framework is more productive and less stressful than reacting to a group’s way-too-early poll for verdict that quickly deteriorates into confusion, distraction and argument.
While our present court system is based on ‘argument’, this judicially-refereed, precedent-based, trained-attorney protocol does not exist in the undisciplined, un-structured, emotionally-charged encounter that takes place behind closed doors. In other words the ‘argument’ is not the same.
This present non-systematic approach consumes an un-predictable amount of time which places pressure on the participants; is costly to all involved and most certainly influences the quality of decisions during jury service.
The jury, through consensus, determines the order of views, they all agree to take the same view at the same time and then set time limits to stay focused. The tools are easy to learn through an introductory DVD and are supplemented by a quick reference video tutorial and a personal pocket guide to the process.
A predictable discussion framework like Fair and Just Deliberations assures the jurors of a reasonable and efficient experience in service and assures the courts that deliberation can be consistently disciplined, fair and productive.
In providing the citizens on juries with the choice of procedures the courts are expanding the resources available to improve decision-making especially for those citizens of the community that do not have formal experience in group decision procedures and lessening the stress for those whom are fulfilling their duty. If they choose the structured, systematic process for use in the deliberation proceedings, several benefits can be immediately realized by the court.
1) Enables the jury to efficiently organize their discussions and individual jurors to organize their contributions. This includes note-taking where allowed. Fair and Just Deliberations also lessen the courts dependency on the presiding juror, for skills they usually do not possess.
2) Eliminates or minimizes time-wasting distractions. Helps jurors to remain focused on your instructions, their rules of order, and the evidence presented.
3) Systematically address emotions and minimizes adversarial argument.
4) Results in a positive, more genuine and participative experience for the jurors