TO: The United States Supreme Court, United States Senators, and United States Assembly Legislatures:
INTRODUCTION: The United Jury Reform was created for future Capital Case trials involving children under the age of 18. Selected jurors would benefit from a fair and impartial education, tools and information for a just verdict.
We the People of the United States, after witnessing the unjust verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, have updated a petition on United Jury Reform-
Due to the public's outrage on the verdict of not guilty in the Casey Anthony trial, the following has been established to further support justice for capital cases involving children under the age of 18, with Death Penalty or Life without Parole qualified trials. These proposed changes have been set forth to further protect Child Victim Rights.
Introducing Jury 101, Jury Handbook Manual, Revised Jury Instructions, Revised Jury Selection, Revised Deliberations and Revised Sentencing policies.
MANDATORY JURY 101 (before trial):
The Jurors must do a mandatory before Trial Jury 101 class. The Jurors must possess the full understanding of the rules and conduct of a capital case murder trial for children under the age of 18:
Jury 101 would include explanations of procedures, rules and conduct of the Court, full explanation of "Reasonable Doubt", explanation of Mitigating and Aggravating circumstances, trial participants role and full explanation of the charges against the Defendant. At this time, the Jury will have a Question and Answer session with the Judge pertaining to the trial and jury deliberations. All legal definitions should be present so that jurors have full comprehension at trial.
At this time, the jurors should review the Jury handbook as provided by the Judge. The Jury handbook should be referred to during the trial and deliberations.
Jury 101 - 1 Day Overview:
All prospective jurors should be enrolled in Jury 101, which length shall be determined by the Judge. A proposed Judicial therapist should be available to assess the cognitive and reasoning skills of each prospective juror prior to Jury selection.
Understanding Opening Statement-
What the attorneys say in opening statements is not evidence. Each juror should have the understanding that what the attorneys say in his opening statement is not fact. Opening statement is an explanation of what the attorney proposes to prove in his case.
Expert Witnesses -
An expert witness, by virtue of education, training, skill and experience is allowed to give evidence that serves to educate the court and jury in the subject matter under consideration. Unlike the average person, an expert witness is allowed by the court to offer opinions based on their experience in their field.
Examining Evidence -
Upon their oath the Jurors must examine all evidence and have the option to take notes during the trial. The retired judge should review all the evidence and make sure all jurors have the knowledge to make educated assessments based on scientific explanations.
Examining Testimony -
Jurors should be alert and interested at all phases of the trial. They have the opportunity to take notes during the testimony of witnesses if they wish.
Examining Witness -
The attorneys call their witnesses and the witnesses are examined in order to bring out testimony and evidence in support of their case.
After their witness has been cross-examined, the attorney representing the other side has the right to redirect examination to repair any damage that may have been done in cross-examination, if possible.
Opposing counsel has the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses the other side has brought forth, to refute what testimony and evidence has been brought out by the witnesses.
In cross-examining a witness the attorney may try to discredit the witness, to lessen the strength and veracity of his previous testimony. At times the attorney may go to beyond the rules of the court until an objection is raised by the opposing counsel.
Lawyer Summation -
What the attorneys say in closing arguments is not evidence. Closing arguments are nothing more than what the attorneys think they have proven to the jury through the evidence and testimony produced at trial. Closing statements are not fact.
The level of certainty a juror must have to find a defendant guilty of a crime. A real doubt based on reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence or lack of evidence in a case. It does not mean proof beyond all doubt.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is proof that is convincing enough that you would act upon it without hesitation. However, it does not mean absolute certainty.
Information about a defendant or the circumstances of a crime that might tend to lessen the sentence or the crime with which the defendant is charged.
Crimes can be committed under circumstances which are not justifiable nor excusable, yet they show the defendant was greatly influenced. For example, if a woman has a starving family and she steals a loaf of bread, these circumstances can be taken into consideration in mitigating the defendants sentence.
Circumstances that lessens the consequences of the defendant. Extenuating circumstances include an infrequent or unusual event that the defendant had no control over. An example would be unforeseen natural events or perhaps a computer system failure.
These circumstances are not necessarily essential parts of the crime but go above and beyond the crime.
The aggravation of a crime is usually due to intentional actions of the defendant. These crimes are punished more severely than the crime by itself. For example, if the defendant robbed a store and assaults the clerk, that would be robbery with aggravated assault.
JURY SELECTION PROPOSAL - SECTION 1:
1. The Jurors have full knowledge of the sequestration process. A sequestered jury requires commitment. Jurors need to put family matters, vacations, job duties aside for the duration of the trial. Jurors should have full knowledge of the deliberation process and the time involved to bring forth a fair verdict.
2. The Jurors must sign a document stating that they will not profit in any manner from the trial at hand during a certain set amount of time following the reading of the verdict. These documents will be secured and maintained by the Judge. The People suggest one year after the verdict is read, the Jurors will be permitted to profit from the trial, if desired.
3. No one with a past felony criminal record may serve as a Juror.
4. Jurors must be exempt from serving on a capital case if previously diagnosed with a mental disability.
5. Jurors chosen to sit on a death-qualified jury are required to accept a possible death penalty verdict. No jurors should be seated in a death-qualified trial if they do not believe in the death penalty. (Not applicable for states where Life without Parole is issued).
6. Jurors should have a minimum High School diploma or GED.
JURY DELIBERATION PROPOSAL - SECTION 2:
1. Jurors in capital cases may not have access to personal electronic devices. Phone calls, internet access and television should be strictly monitored. There should be no internet access throughout the trial.
2. A hard copy of explanations of Reasonable Doubt, Mitigating and Aggravating circumstances and the charges against the Defendant will be supplied to the Jury.
3. There should be either a retired Judge or legal expert to personally guide the jury in capital cases. The retired Judge or legal expert should provide the Jurors with ballots for a secret ballot as they enter the jury room for deliberations. The retired Judge or legal expert then steps out of the presence of the jury. The retired Judge or legal expert will provide evidence to the jury for their review. The bailiff(s) will remain posted outside the jury room door at all times. The retired Judge or legal expert will remain close if needed for any jury questions regarding deliberations.
4. The Judge in capital cases should have the right to overturn a jury verdictif the Judge feels it was arrived at erroneously.
5. Exclusion of a foreperson and including jurors with equal standing for consideration of the verdict. Each juror is given the evidence to review piece by piece as documented at the trial. They may ask questions or request a readback of evidence. They may also request explanations for technical information given during trial. For example, if there is significant scientific information given as testimony, the jurors may ask for details so they can consider the testimony with clear knowlege of the subject.
6. An attorney may not be allowed to participate in the selection of the jury. A panel of two Judges in addition to the judge presiding over the case, for a total of three Judges, should be allowed to find an unbiased, educated jury panel.
7. The jury should never discuss the penalty the defendant would be charged with before the verdict is published. Jurors are not allowed to discuss penalty for the defendant until they render a verdict. If the verdict is guilty, the Judge will lead them through the instructions for the penalty phase of the trial.
PROPOSED SENTENCING POLICY FOR CAPITAL MURDER TRIALS (for children under the age of 18) - SECTION 3:
1. The jurors are required to look at every possible aspect of a case before they may decide guilt or innocence. If jurors return a verdict with at least one mitigating factor, it does not have to be unanimous beyond a reasonable doubt. If jurors return a verdict with one aggravating factor, it needs to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. Jurors are required to weigh in both mitigating circumstances and take a vote. The jurors should weigh in all aggravating circumstances and take a vote. The retired Law judge or legal expert will then weigh both mitigating and aggravating circumstances at sentencing.
3. If the verdict is not guilty, then the retired Law Judge or legal expert has a right to overturn the verdict. If insufficient factors are not weighed in, OR the retired Law judge or legal expert may take another count and if he/she feels that not all aspects have been fairly reached, then the judge may call a mistrial.
4. If the jurors find the defendant guilty, the Prosecution and the Defense have an opportunity to state why the defendant should or should not be sentenced to the maximum charge against them. During the penalty phase, each side can bring up character witnesses to assist their side in getting the penalty they are seeking. It is up to the jury to decide if the prosecution or defense and their character or rebuttal witnesses will make an impact on their sentencing the defendant.
Written by Catherine Cole and Fight for Caylee Justice 2012