Friday, August 01, 2003


There is a movement underway for states to rewrite jury instructions in “plain English” so as to make them clearer and more understandable. This does not seem like such a bad idea, as those jury instructions can be confusing even to me, and I went to law school for 3 years in order to understand legalese. But I am genuinely concerned when a jury believes that “malice aforethought” means that the murder was committed with a mallet. The low level of education of the general public in this country is truly astonishing. See related article at The National Law Journal.

Conventional wisdom (me) says: If you are not guilty, choose a bench trial. If you are guilty, let a jury decide. It is hard to get 12 people to agree on anything.

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