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Jury trial versus bench trial

Jury trial versus bench trial - Which type of trial—jury...

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Jury trial versus bench trial The defendant can waive this right to a  jury trial  and have a  bench trial  (in which the judge serves  as the finder of facts and decides the innocence or guilt of the accused on the charges). The  defendant might choose a bench trial if he or she believes a judge will be more capable of making an  objective decision, especially if the charges are likely to arouse emotional reactions among jurors.  But in all criminal matters in which jail is a possible penalty (which means just about everything  above a trivial misdemeanor), the defendant has a right to a jury trial. A defendant might opt for a  jury trial because of the pressures on judges to find the defendant guilty. Some of these pressures  are political—in many states, judges must run for re-election, and any judge who appears to be “soft  on criminals” can be politically ruined. 
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Unformatted text preview: Which type of trial—jury or bench—best serves the public's interest in justice? Some people want to abolish jury trials. They contend that many trials today involve legal and technical questions that are too complex for the average citizen to grasp and that judges are better equipped to decide the outcome. The right to jury trial reflects, on the other hand, a judgment about the way in which law should be enforced and justice should be administered. A right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants to prevent oppression by the government. “Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge,” the Supreme Court said in Duncan v. Louisiana (1968)....
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