Jury trials can last for an extremely long time, potentially upwards of several months. Every day during the trial, at least 12 jurors will be inconvenienced by showing up to the court.
Besides the issue of wasting so much time for so many people, there are several additional factors:
- Jurors can become bored, inattentive, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of evidence that is presented at a trial.
- Any testimony or evidence has to be presented on-site at the trial during normal business hours (with rare exceptions for video testimony). This is unnecessarily limiting.
- Jurors may occasionally be instructed to exclude or ignore evidence that has been presented but (for whatever reason) is inadmissible. However, it is not actually possible for a juror to wipe their memory of the improperly-presented evidence.
- Jurors may be influenced more by the charisma and speaking style of witnesses or lawyers, rather than the substance of what they are saying.
Fig 1: The “scales of justice” can also be used to weigh people or sacks of flour.
Instead of having a trial drag out for weeks and weeks, it could be filmed and edited down to the length of a standard miniseries.
Each one-hour “episode” would consist of alternating segments by the prosecution and defense.
The episodes could be released in several ways:
- As a streaming “Netflix”-style video to the jurors to watch at home as streaming video at their leisure.
- As a streaming video, but requiring the jurors to all watch it at the same time and log into a shared chat room. This could also be accomplished from jurors’ homes.
- In a regular conference room or movie theater, where all jurors would be obligated to show up at the same time and the trial video would be presented (and refreshments provided). This would be the most similar to existing jury duty, except that it would be shorter and after work hours.
Fig 2: With a camera in the courtroom, the jury could be removed entirely.
This solves many problems:
- Qualified jurors attempting to weasel their way out of jury duty due to the burdensome obligation (greatly minimized)
- Jury duty could be scheduled for 8–9 PM for a week, thus preventing it from conflicting with normal work hours.
- Inadmissible evidence can be removed in the editing room.
- Trials would be cheaper and shorter.
- Would bolster the video editing sector of the economy.
Finally, particularly compelling trials could even be released on a “pay-per-view” system, bringing in much-needed funds to the civil infrastructure.
Fig 3: The old jury box (left) and the new jury box (right, note that it is empty) after the proposed modifications. It could be used to grow lettuce or radishes, thereby increasing the “sustainability score” of an eco-friendly courthouse.
PROS: Reduces the annoyance of jury duty, increases the quality of legal representation, and saves money for the court system.