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Debates Forum

  1. 27 Dec '10 13:04
    Recent debate about the jury system on another thread has led me to think about the following. In Britain and America criminal trials are decided by a jury of citizens selected at random from the electoral register, with jury service considered a civic duty.

    I wonder what would happen if a similar model was applied to parliament and congress? Citizens would be selected at random to spend a short term as a lay congressman or lay member of parliament. This would apply to a small but significant proportion of congressmen and MPs - say, in the United States, one lay congressman per state, or in Britain, one lay member of parliament per every two counties (which would equate to a little over ten percent of congressional membership and a little under ten percent of British parliamentary membership).

    What would be the effects of such a move?
  2. 27 Dec '10 18:10
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Recent debate about the jury system on another thread has led me to think about the following. In Britain and America criminal trials are decided by a jury of citizens selected at random from the electoral register, with jury service considered a civic duty.

    I wonder what would happen if a similar model was applied to parliament and congress? Citizens w ...[text shortened]... r ten percent of British parliamentary membership).

    What would be the effects of such a move?
    You'd have people in Parliament/Congress who wouldn't have the slightest idea of what their job is supposed to be, but would surely seek to address what they see as the concerns of the common people. Predictably these people would be the most parochial in their approach to debates.
  3. 27 Dec '10 18:12
    I would suspect these people are very susceptible to bribes.
  4. 27 Dec '10 18:16
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    I would suspect these people are very susceptible to bribes.
    any more than the usual Members of Congress/MPs?
  5. 27 Dec '10 18:20
    Originally posted by generalissimo
    any more than the usual Members of Congress/MPs?
    Yes, because these people wouldn't have a political career to worry about.
  6. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Dec '10 19:14
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Yes, because these people wouldn't have a political career to worry about.
    They'd have prison to worry about.
  7. 27 Dec '10 19:16 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    They'd have prison to worry about.
    Yes, of course. It's a problem you can overcome, I simply foresee greater possible issues in this system compared with career politicians.
  8. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Dec '10 19:17
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Recent debate about the jury system on another thread has led me to think about the following. In Britain and America criminal trials are decided by a jury of citizens selected at random from the electoral register, with jury service considered a civic duty.

    I wonder what would happen if a similar model was applied to parliament and congress? Citizens w ...[text shortened]... r ten percent of British parliamentary membership).

    What would be the effects of such a move?
    Teinosuke: In Britain and America criminal trials are decided by a jury of citizens selected at random from the electoral register, with jury service considered a civic duty.

    This is somewhat incorrect. The actual jury at a trial is not "selected at random" but is the result of the decisions of the prosecutor, defense attorney and judge. The panel itself is "randomly selected" (though how random the selection is has been disputed) but the actual composition of the final jury is not.
  9. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Dec '10 19:20
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Yes, of course. It's a problem you can overcome, I simply oversee greater possible issues in this system compared with career politicians.
    One could argue they'd be less susceptible to the type of "bribery" most often used in the American political system i.e. the providing of cash for a politician's re-election contingent on his support of measures that financially benefit the giver.
  10. 27 Dec '10 19:20
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    One could argue they'd be less susceptible to the type of "bribery" most often used in the American political system i.e. the providing of cash for a politician's re-election contingent on his support of measures that financially benefit the giver.
    But surely we can all agree FPTP is ineffective?
  11. Subscriber FreakyKBH
    Acquired Taste...
    27 Dec '10 19:24
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Recent debate about the jury system on another thread has led me to think about the following. In Britain and America criminal trials are decided by a jury of citizens selected at random from the electoral register, with jury service considered a civic duty.

    I wonder what would happen if a similar model was applied to parliament and congress? Citizens w ...[text shortened]... r ten percent of British parliamentary membership).

    What would be the effects of such a move?
    As we've touched on before, we cannot always take the historical view of any aspect of societal concern as the correct one, but... in the US, the House and Senate were selected more on the basis of their station than anything else. While loathe to acknowledge or admit to any type of a ruling class, the thought was that 'the best of us' were most qualified to be the decision makers. Many elections since have witnessed the French Revolution-like backlash against the insiders, the Ivy Leaguers, the moneyed elite: think Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton who fought hard to down play any vestige of their ties to establishment while endeavoring equally hard to play up their 'common man' credibilities.

    As already noted herein, most jurors are woefully ignorant of their duties and responsibilities while simply sitting mute in a box simply listening to stories. Imagine the damage that would be caused by throwing them the keys to a Lamborghini!
  12. 27 Dec '10 19:25 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    This is somewhat incorrect. The actual jury at a trial is not "selected at random" but is the result of the decisions of the prosecutor, defense attorney and judge. The panel itself is "randomly selected" (though how random the selection is has been disputed) but the actual composition of the final jury is not.
    Yeah, I realised after I put up my original post that this was not correct as regards the US jury system. In Britain the selection process is random, so the twelve men and women who end up in the courtroom are chosen as if by lot, but the case's lawyers are given the opportunity to challenge the selection before the trial proceeds. However, such challenges are rare. Are they more common in the US?

    In any case, that inaccuracy doesn't prevent discussion of the hypothesis I suggested.
  13. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Dec '10 19:29
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Yeah, I realised after I put up my original post that this was not correct as regards the US jury system. In Britain the selection process is random, so the twelve men and women who end up in the courtroom are chosen as if by lot, but the case's lawyers are given the opportunity to challenge the selection before the trial proceeds. However, such challenges ...[text shortened]... US?

    In any case, that inaccuracy doesn't prevent discussion of the hypothesis I suggested.
    I would say that pre-emptory challenges are used in every case and challenges for case in almost every case in the American system. Jury selection can take days or longer.
  14. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Dec '10 19:30
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    But surely we can all agree FPTP is ineffective?
    What is "FPTP"?
  15. 27 Dec '10 19:32
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    What is "FPTP"?
    First Past the Post