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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)

Caverno, Charles
The abolition of the jury system,   pp. 7-18 PDF (3.4 MB)


Page 13


The Abolition of the Jury System.
cratic governments that the jury system has come by its high
reputation.
  Tocqueville sees this and says, that " trial by jury is emphatic-
ally a political institution."
  You detect the ring of political intent in the speeches of the
continental orators advocating the introduction of trial by jury
into their several countries.
  It is easy to see how this comes about. Monarchies and aris-
tocracies often make political crimes out of what men of progres-
sive and democratic tendencies consider the liberties of the citi-
zen.
  The jury becomes popular because, taken from the people; it
naturally will be a defense against conviction of these political
crimes.
   But fin this country, we are expected yet to glorify an institu-
tion which has lost all significance and appreciation as a protection
of liberty.  We have no monarch to declare the liberties of the
citizen political crimes. We have no ranks in society who can
make crimes out of encroachments by the lower orders upon the
claims of privilege. The ballot has taken *the wind from the sails
of trial by jury as a defense of liberty, and left it as
                       "Idle as a painted ship
                         Upon a painted ocean."
   Trial by jury has not had a cargo to carry in the interest of
 liberty since the government was founded, and it cannot get one.
   The social conditions in this country are such that trials like
 the famous state trials in England -Horne Tooke's and Hone's
 for example - can never arise; and if they should, the ballot will
 always be the swiftest instrument to cut the knot which they pre-
 sent. Political rights with us find their solution in suffrage, not
 in jury trials. Politics settles political rights, courts assenting or
 dissenting. As long as the courts are in the hands of the people,
 politics may be trusted to take care of political rights. If it could
 be shown that courts have stood in the breach for liberty, it will
 be found that any effective service has been rendered by courts
 of last resort, where juries never come.
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