ONE GOOD THING IN JURY SYSTEM: TRIAL IS ALWAYS FAIR
ANYONE WHO REFUSES TO RENDER
JURY DUTY IS IMPRISONED
By BERTENI "TOTO" CATALUÑA CAUSING
Author of the book entitled "Simplified Libel Law in the Philippines"
In untested country like the Philippines, jury system trial is completely foreign and many are repulsive of the idea of changing the present with Trial Juries in all courts and Grand Juries in all prosecution offices.
Those who are repulsive to the jury idea are mostly the lawyers, who prefer trials to go longer to be assured of steady income, judges, who would want to keep influence as the ones who have the final say as to the guilt or innocence, and justices who rather want to keep the age-old Rules of Evidence to live by for issues of facts to reinforce their esteem as masters in the science of discovering the truth by applying the principles of evidence.
One thing the cynics do not know is that jury system is the only way to assure the people of fairness in trial, although perfect judgment cannot be given assurance.
The trust of the people in the judicial system is not necessarily founded on the assurance of correct judgment but more on the assurance of fairness. Assurance of fair play is always assured because those who are called to render jury duty cannot refuse or they are imprisoned and because they serve only for one particular case.
History-wise, jury system is trusted more by the people in countries that employ jury system than in nations using single-judge bench trial, where the judge deciding the issue has nothing to worry that someone would check him if his judgments on issues of facts are correct or not even if it means life imprisonment for the innocent.
One thing that breeds distrust in the judges is they are empowered with exclusive exercise of the power to say who is a witness who lied or who told the truth.
This power the judges wield is alarming. This is so because if there is no clear contrary indication in the transcript of records of the testimonies of witnesses, the justices scrutinizing the records on appeal review will always give 100% faith in the declaration of the trial judges. This faith of the justices in the judges as to who are the witnesses telling the truth in court is founded upon the Rule of Evidence's doctrine that trial judges are better situated to observe the demeanor and deportment as the witnesses testified.
But one thing is clearly forgotten by the Philippines' present system.
It forgets that the exclusive authority given to the judges to say which is true and which is not GIVES HIM THE VIRTUALLY-UNCHECKED CHANCES TO CORRUPT JUDGMENT WITH LITTLE CHANCE OF GETTING DETECTED. By the system that relies only on Rules of Evidence, appeal review has no tool to discover corruption in the judges' judgments on issues about facts during reviews.
Now, compare the judgments of the judges against those rendered by 12 persons chosen carefully from the bigger pool of candidates raffled from computer's voters' list to be called in as candidates to serve jury duties.
Judges who sit permanently in their assigned courts are not assured to stay neutral at all times throughout their service. Thus, it is always correct to state that in some cases even the most honest judges get biased, wittingly or not, knowingly or not.
In jury trial system, jurors are chosen to serve in only one trial. If it is too difficult to corrupt jurors, then the people are assured the court is fair and not biased in its decisions, even if the judgments may be incorrect.
Additionally, there are thousands of courts in the country that have no appointed judges, but are only attended to by acting or pairing judges from other courts. In effect, acting or pairing judges serve more than two courts at the same time. This is dangerous: a judge friend was easily removed from acting as a pairing judge in Puerto Princesa after he dished out an order issuing a warrant for the arrest of five policemen for the crime of planting of drug evidence.
To the contrary, in jury system, it is assured that there is no trial that can be held without jurors selected for that particular trial alone. The service of jurors are assured because those who are finally chosen cannot refuse or they are jailed. After issuing their judgment, the jurors are dismissed and it is very remote that they will be called in once again to render another jury duty: a one-time affair assure that these jurors can never be corrupt as there will be next-time-around for them.
Moreover, the country is creating additional employment opportunities to the jobless by making the choices of jurors with priority to the unemployed.
And most importantly, there are no rebellions in countries that embrace jury system of trial.
To understand how the system enforces the insurance of attendance of jurors, please read the story of Eric Pfeiffer of Yahoo! News below and the story written by Andrew de Guzman of Marianas Variety also below.
Texas man jailed after failing to appear for jury duty
By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News (The Sideshow, Nov. 2, 2012 PH Time)
A Texas man has been sent to jail after repeatedly skipping jury duty.
There is a near universal dread of being called to jury duty. But the case of Jose Bocanegra Jr. is an unusual reminder of how shirking one's government-mandated responsibility to pass judgment on one's fellow citizens can result in getting yourself into trouble with the law.
"He tried to get disqualified by stating he was a felon—that got denied," Jury Bailiff Paula Morales told a local Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate. "He tried to get excused by claiming he was the caretaker of an invalid. We couldn't substantiate that, so that was denied."
Sometimes Bocanegra, 20, just simply didn't show up for his assigned jury duty.
Interestingly, the authorities finally went after Bocanegra when he did show up for jury duty—only to leave the scene minutes later. A bench warrant for his arrest was then promptly issued.
Legally, a person cannot be asked to serve on a jury more than once every two years. Though most individuals are asked to serve at far more infrequent intervals.
There are several ways an individual can legally attempt to avoid jury duty, citing various professional, personal and legal conflicts. And beyond that, you may not even be asked to formally serve on a specific jury when you show up for the selection process. But if someone blatantly skips jury duty, the repercussions vary across different jurisdictions. In some cases, an individual will simply be assigned to serve on another jury. Or the individual may be fined. Or, as in the case of Bocanegra, the person can actually be sent to prison.
"I called him… his phone wasn't accepting phone messages. I sent him an email, told him it was imperative that he contact me immediately, and we never heard back from him," Morales told CBS. "So then I was forced to take it to the judge."
The next day Bocanegra stood handcuffed in front of a judge who held him in contempt of court. In explaining his absence from jury duty, Bocanegra reportedly told the judge he didn't like waiting in line and that jury duty was too time-consuming.
"I didn't want to because it's all the way in Fort Worth—way out of the way," Bocanegra said in the courtroom.
"The judge told him he wasn't taking his jury duty seriously, considering his history. So he sentenced him to five days in the county jail," Morales said.
"I mean, we've tried and tried and he just kept shirking it and shirking it and it wasn't going anywhere. So we didn't have a choice."
ANOTHER STORY OF ARREST ISSUED BY JUDGE ON 4 PERSONS FOR REFUSING TO REPORT FOR JURY DUTY.
Their bench warrants were quashed after the court said it was satisfied with the explanations.
According to Judge Camacho’s clerk, 205 individuals were summoned for Panel YS.
Of this number, 68 were served the summons while 137 were not because they were either off-island or couldn’t be located.
Fifty-eight potential jurors appeared in Camacho’s courtroom for jury empanelling. Others were subsequently excused by the court.
Those summoned for jury duty were told that “failure to obey as directed by the summons may result in your arrest.”