Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Possible safeguards against wrongful convictions?

(Observations in the "Presumed Innocent" series)

"There's an app for that"
At the risk of trivializing the jury process, I might be tempted, in our increasingly tech-integrated world, to say “there’s an app for that” and develop an assortment of macros for interactive “games” wherein jurors could, after sitting on a trial, and subsequently being discharged from duty, explore the questions about evidence, impressions, events which might have contributed to the unfolding, understanding, and ultimate decisions made in the case.

Generally, it seems that litigators and assistants, as well as reporters, are permitted to communicate with jurors after the jury trial is completed (unless such contact is barred by law or court order) in both civil and criminal cases. Books, movies, all sorts of media explore major details and even minutiae following conclusion of court-room responsibilities.

If games could be accessed through servers ensuring juror anonymity (if the juror wanted to speak in person, they could do so, though the game might still not be redundant—what if jurors experience blockages and subliminal filters similar to so many “eye witnesses” to crimes?), risks of harassment, embarrassment, criticism could be avoided. Post-trial exploration of juror reaction to trial events and information can be proper, appropriate, in conformity with law and controlling court orders, but also, more importantly, informative and very valuable to test the limits of “reasonable doubt” and possibility of error.

If jurors think that a there is doubt, public defenders, retained counsel, amicus curiae, even, perhaps, judges themselves, might greatly benefit from this identity-shielded, possibly more truthful, unthreatened exposure of a juror’s comprehension of issues and evidence. Jurors are uniquely capable, if so inclined, to provide defense, prosecuting, and peripheral counsel and experts with informative feedback about all aspects of the case—even perhaps insight into the future selection of perceptive and impartial jurors for future pools.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a game, properly secured, ethically sound, and in accordance with prevailing law, might enable clearer perceptions of the truth, extend touchstones which might raise warning flags about possible wrongful conviction, or, in a more ideal circumstance, enable a clearer perspective of findings of actual guilt?

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