The Jury System’s Comparative Superiority

The jury system is like democracy, the worst system in the world except for all the others.

Quite often when giving evidence before a jury I have wondered how much they were taking in or even paying attention. Certainly they never dressed for the occasion; they looked rather as if they had popped out to the convenience store on a lazy Sunday morning to get something they had just run out of. Like most of the contemporary population most of the time, they looked a mess. It is probable that the defense would have objected to a juror who looked too well-dressed.

Usually on any jury, though, there are one or two jurors who take notes with fierce concentration; I presume they dominate or prevail upon their fellow-jurors in the deliberations to come, though in this I may be mistaken, for even now no one knows what goes on the jury room. At any rate juries, at least in my experience, rarely pass verdicts that are patently absurd or fly in the face of the evidence. Somehow, despite the fact that juries nowadays almost always contain people with attention deficit disorder, the terminally bored, flibbertigibbets, the drugged, the plainly idiotic, the too-young-to-care, the dreamers and the incapable (among others), they arrive at a sensible conclusion. In a way it is not only surprising, it is inspiring.

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