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7 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2007 - 12:15PM #1
wfpkwoman
Posts: 11
This is an old thread that I am transferring over:

whaledone

I write this here because I more closely hold beliefs that are Quaker in nature. Knowing Quakerism as I do, I realize few beliefs would be so objectionable to Friends that they would exclude anyone from conversation.

I am searching more for pros and cons to the question than any nonexistent doctrine.

The question is, we are told not to be judges of men. By serving on juries, that is exactly what we do. If we all took this to the extreme however, there would be no one on Earth that could determine who should be locked up in order to keep society safe. Are there any precedents Quakers use pro or con to answer this question?


Thanks very much
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2007 - 11:53AM #2
Marcyy
Posts: 723
Well, as a Quaker, I am glad I don't have to struggle with this question. With over 40 years of volunteer work in prisons, I would not be chosen to serve on jury duty.

Also, I have very definite ideas on the inequality of justice through the courts in this country. Too many inequities within our legal system , and I am certainly opposed to the death penalty.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2007 - 7:17PM #3
Ozymandias
Posts: 1
I think much of the question depends on the conception of "judging."  To me, the biblical commandment to not be judges of men refers to the idea of passing judgment on the righteousness of others.  In a sense, to not make moral judgments about others.

I can't really speak to other legal systems, but in America, juries serve as fact finders.  When a jury finds someone guilty, they are not passing judgment on the character or nature of the individual, they have simply determined the individual committed an act which is defined as illegal.  The role of a jury isn't to determine if someone is a good person or a bad person, it is to determine if a person did or did not do something.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 01, 2007 - 6:52PM #4
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

Marcyy wrote:

Well, as a Quaker, I am glad I don't have to struggle with this question. With over 40 years of volunteer work in prisons, I would not be chosen to serve on jury duty.

Also, I have very definite ideas on the inequality of justice through the courts in this country. Too many inequities within our legal system , and I am certainly opposed to the death penalty.



I'm a criminal defense attorney and i can't think of anyone i  would rather have on a Jury than a Quaker-what exactly would disqualify you from serving on a misdemeanor trial such as the DWI i tried yesterday and today or the DWI i am trying on Monday?

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 03, 2007 - 9:32AM #5
edwin333
Posts: 1
I don't think that my views are completely typical - but it may give you an idea of the types of problems. I do not accept the separation of the functions of judge and jury. I believe that I am responsible for the results of my actions. If I find someone guilty of a crime, I am responsible for the punishment that follows - even if it is someone else who dictates that punishment. It may be that I would find someone not guilty because I would not be willing to accept the punishment that would follow from finding someone guilty - even if I were absolutely sure they were guilty.

This is made more extreme because I do not support a justice system based on punishments.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 7:33AM #6
foxfell
Posts: 62
[QUOTE=Ozymandias;27002]When a jury finds someone guilty, they are not passing judgment on the character or nature of the individual, they have simply determined the individual committed an act which is defined as illegal.  The role of a jury isn't to determine if someone is a good person or a bad person, it is to determine if a person did or did not do something.[/QUOTE]

I realize that I have stumbled into this thread two months too late.  But Ozymandias makes such a good point here that I wanted simply to echo it.

While Quakers believe that there is that-of-god in every person, including the most hardened criminal, this does not preclude them from weighing in honestly on the issue of one's responsibility for one's actions.

fox
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 22, 2008 - 4:06PM #7
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 946
[QUOTE=edwin333;42164]I don't think that my views are completely typical - but it may give you an idea of the types of problems. I do not accept the separation of the functions of judge and jury. I believe that I am responsible for the results of my actions. If I find someone guilty of a crime, I am responsible for the punishment that follows - even if it is someone else who dictates that punishment. It may be that I would find someone not guilty because I would not be willing to accept the punishment that would follow from finding someone guilty - even if I were absolutely sure they were guilty.

This is made more extreme because I do not support a justice system based on punishments.[/QUOTE]

Yes... if you're looking at, say, a drug case where the mandatory minimum will be draconian, what do you do?  Even if you're convinced the defendant is guilty, what will happen to them if they're convicted is way out of proportion to what they did (assuming it should even be punished at all--if there is to be any punishment for crimes, should that include nonviolent violations of drug laws?)  Or cases where the law itself is unjust or is being applied unjustly--like a young man who gets his girlfriend pregnant in a consensual act, takes full responsibility, and is then prosecuted for statutory rape or fornication (in the fornication case I remember hearing about, the young woman was prosecuted too).  If I were on a jury with that sort of case, I don't think I could ever vote to convict.  (Which would probably get me booted from jury selection early on!)

And, like at least one other poster here, I am not Quaker, but do find that many of my beliefs are close in nature.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 22, 2008 - 4:06PM #8
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 946
[QUOTE=edwin333;42164]I don't think that my views are completely typical - but it may give you an idea of the types of problems. I do not accept the separation of the functions of judge and jury. I believe that I am responsible for the results of my actions. If I find someone guilty of a crime, I am responsible for the punishment that follows - even if it is someone else who dictates that punishment. It may be that I would find someone not guilty because I would not be willing to accept the punishment that would follow from finding someone guilty - even if I were absolutely sure they were guilty.

This is made more extreme because I do not support a justice system based on punishments.[/QUOTE]

Yes... if you're looking at, say, a drug case where the mandatory minimum will be draconian, what do you do?  Even if you're convinced the defendant is guilty, what will happen to them if they're convicted is way out of proportion to what they did (assuming it should even be punished at all--if there is to be any punishment for crimes, should that include nonviolent violations of drug laws?)  Or cases where the law itself is unjust or is being applied unjustly--like a young man who gets his girlfriend pregnant in a consensual act, takes full responsibility, and is then prosecuted for statutory rape or fornication (in the fornication case I remember hearing about, the young woman was prosecuted too).  If I were on a jury with that sort of case, I don't think I could ever vote to convict.  (Which would probably get me booted from jury selection early on!)

And, like at least one other poster here, I am not Quaker, but do find that many of my beliefs are close in nature.
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4 years ago  ::  May 18, 2010 - 8:53PM #9
sara
Posts: 1
i am also quaker and heres the deal- i was called for jury duty and went today and tomorrow we continue jury selection. so far they have asked me to be on  the jury but now i have spent hours soulsearching as to whether or not it is just for me to make a decision that ends in someone, (even though this is a murder trial)  being thrown into our prison system. because quakers believe that there is that of god in everyone, how can i participate in making a decision that might send someone into a place where they will be raped? i dont think i can pass that judgement in good conscience. i think i will ask to be removed from jury duty tomorrow because i dont believe that i can live with knowing i sent a man to a place where that of god in each person is raped.
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 21, 2012 - 11:35AM #10
zumarraga
Posts: 1

I was raised Quaker and recently got released from a jury pool because the judge/attorneys apparently concluded my disputing the prosecutor's "reasonable doubt" scenarios meant that I wouldn't be able to take an oath to defend the Constitution.  My religious background never came up at the hearing.


While I hadn't even thought about the oath thing and was psychologically prepared to serve on the jury, what really hung me up in hindsight was seeing this young black male, frightened to death, facing a jury pool that contained no one that appeared to be of his race/gender/class.  I get that we're supposed to just deal with facts and answer yes-no questions, and it's not our responsibility what happens to the defendant after the verdict.  I get the idea of it, but just couldn't buy into it in practice.  Words and logic may lead you in one direction but in my experience you cannot ignore your conscience or it'll come back to bite you later on.   I sensed that the judge, who appeared to be a first generation child of immigrants, thought I was either shirking my duty, was unpatriotic, or both. I felt shamed at first, then reminded about how much braver people of faith used to get thrown into prison during similar situations in the old days.


The earlier post-er who gets regularly disqualified from jury selection by doing prison work seems to have figured a good way to serve his/her country without getting hung up in all this stuff.

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