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Trial by Jury, a Hallowed American Right, Is Vanishing

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Susan Lee Schwartz
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File:Trial by Jury Usher.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File:Trial by Jury Usher.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
(Image by (From Wikimedia) W.S. Gilbert (d. 1911), Author: W.S. Gilbert (d. 1911))
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The national decline in trials, both criminal and civil, and the vanishing of criminal jury trials has never seemed so pronounced. In 2005,  there were more than double the number of trials;decades ago the numbers were much higher. “It’s hugely disappointing,” said  a 20-year veteran of the Manhattan federal bench. “A trial is the one place where the system really gets tested. Everything else is done behind closed doors.” Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial. “This is what jury trials were supposed to be a check against — the potential abuse of the use of prosecutorial power;the entire system loses an edge, and the quality of justice in our courthouses has suffered as a result.”

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I began teaching in 1963,; Ba and BS in Education -Brooklyn College. I have the equivalent of 2 additional Master's, mainly in Literacy Studies and Graphic Design. I was the only seventh grade teacher of English from 1990 -1999 at East Side (more...)

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