The Right to Trial by Jury is More Important Than Ever
This is why the right to trial by jury is more important than ever, and can never be taken for granted. The first jury trials took place in Athens more than 2500 years ago, and were created for a simple purpose—to make sure that whoever decided life and death legal disputes could not be unduly threatened, corruptly influenced, or bribed.
This Canadian tourist was convicted of drug smuggling in China (on dubious evidence), and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was given a one day “re-trial,” which occurred now in the context of the recent high profile arrest of a Chinese executive in Canada on US extradition charges, and on re-trial was sentenced to the DEATH PENALTY.
In Athens the cases were initially decided by 500-1000 people so the numbers were simply too large to bribe. Ultimately Athens settled on juries of 12, a number that still stands today in the United States.
The key point today is the same as it was even before the time of Christ. The ultimate protection of human liberty is the right to trial by ordinary citizens who have not be threatened, corrupted, or bribed. We can’t ever take this for granted, and should be strongly suspicious of every effort to undermine the Constitutional right to jury trial—and the credibility and independence of our judicial branch—whether by corporate interest groups, foreign governments, or a US President.