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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 17


The Abolition of the Jury System.
  " MASTER SERJEANT, I know how by persuasions, enforcements
presumptions, applying, implying, inferring, conjecturing, dedu-'
cing of arguments, wresting and exceeding the law, the circum-
stances, the depositions, and confessions, unlearned men may be
enchanted to think and judge those that be things indifferent or
at the worst oversights, may be great treasons.  Such power, ora-
tors have, and such ignorance the unlearned bave."
  But the processes that win with a jury are powerless with the
court. It would be a happy result for the bar if all possible
temptation to such processes were removed.
  We have instances enough to show that a master of rhetoric can
convince a jury that it is perfectly natural for men to unjoint
their heads and carry them under their arms during a shower.
But whether it is worth while for society to tax itself heavily to
support an institution for the sake of giving such rhetoricians ex.
erise, is or is not much of a question, according as it is viewed.
  The jury system has indeed such age as it has to recom-
mend it.
  But, as Forsyth well says: "A better reason for the continu.
ance of an institution must be given than that it has been handed
down to us by our forefathers."
  Professor Christian has expressed the opinion that the rule of
unanimity in verdicts could not. have been introduced in any age
by deliberate act of the legislature.
  If it were an original question with us, whether to introduce
jury trial as we have it, either in civil or criminal cases, the propo-
sition would fail to find respectable support.
                        POSTSCRIPT.
  The abolition of term sentences in criminal cases, recommended
by the governor of Wisconsin, Hon. W. E. Smith, in his first an-
nual message, has a bearing upon the abolition of the jury system
in such cases, to which attention is invited.
  The board having the charge of criminals must always have be-
fore them the question of the actual guilt of a prisoner, as well
as the equities existing in case of clearly ascertained crime. Such
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