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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 14


14      Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Lefters.
  In this country, then, trial by jury, considered as a bulwark of
political liberty, is serviceless. The only remaining function of
the jury is to do justice in cases of accusation of universally ac-
knowledged crime. We are to inquire whether it is fulfilling that
office. It is high time we looked this institution straight in the
face-high time that we stripped it of the glamour in which it
is clothed, brought from other ages and other circumstances.
There is one plain question to be asked of it, is it prokcting sockly
in cases of crime? If it is not doing that, its sole occupation is
gone.
  We have few statistics to help us to a judgment on this matter,
and from the nature of the case, if we had, they could never be
conclusive. There must be a problematical element in all our
judgments on the subject.
  Quetelet gives us one set, however, that are very suggestive.
  In 1830, on the introduction of trial by jury into Belgium, the
ratio of acquitted to accused in that country was found to be just
doubled. Now no man can demonstrate that this result made against
social protection, and did not make in favor of protection of inno-
cence; but one familiar with the history of criminal trials in this
country for the last quarter of a century will judge that this re-
sult did make against social protection and in the interest of crime.
  Common fame may be trusted for the assertion that for a gener-
ation there has been a substantial failure of justice in this country
in criminal trials. The rule is that great criminals escape.
  Jury trial has come to protect criminals and not society. If a
criminal fails to be protected, it is simply because the resources
offered by the jury system have not been well worked -wit and
money fail him, not opportunities for their successful use.
  Look along the line on which the criminal can operate. If we
had arranged it with special eye to the disaster of society and the
defense of crime, we could scarcely have done better. Juries take
their rise in boards which, in the large cities, have been delivered
to " the bondage of corruption."
  Out of the same board of supervisors came forth the Tweed
frauds and juries. In such extremity of virtue, if crime does
not find its opportunity, it is modest. When we are star-gazing,


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