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St. Mary's Law Journal

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Abstract

A jury is entitled to know what it is doing by its verdict. As such, it is satisfying in charging a jury to explain fully and completely the legal principles involved in a case, the rights and duties of the parties, and the facts that the jury must deduct from the evidence presented to reach a verdict. Those who hold contrary views do not trust jurors, and in fact, do not trust the jury system. The views of professors, lawyers, and judges on this question and the reasoning for and against a full disclosure of the case to a jury are varied. Advocates of the special or fact verdict believe that a jury suffers from human frailties in arriving at a verdict and some go as far to believe that judges are never affected by such frailties. In opposition to this stance, some advocate that a jury trial provides a greater flexibility to legal rules that is essential to satisfy popular demands and justice. Considering the totality of each case, the jury should determine the rights of the parties. Our entire jury system relies on witness credibility and the weight to be given their testimony, which are matters left to the jury for determination. The jury represents the community and should dispose of community issues appropriately. It is of necessity that a jury’s verdict reflects the philosophy, the background, the training, the experience, and the morals of each juror. As such, it should not be used as an excuse to remove matters from juries, especially since the aforementioned traits influence judges’ decision making as well.

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