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Ben Franklin's bifocals Sunday, October 4, 2009

Plymouth Colony 1636 Legal Code
[1636 - General Court of Plymouth Colony institutes first North American legal code
guaranteeing trial by jury]

President Rutherford B. Hayes
[1822 - Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 19th President,
born in Delaware, Ohio]

Artist Frederic Remington    Artist Frederic Remington - Bronco Buster
[1861 - Frederic Remington, artist, writer, born in Canton, New York]

Author Edward Stratemeyer
[1862 - Edward L. Stratemeyer, author, publisher,
born in Elizabeth, New Jersey]

Writer & Jounalist Damon Runyon
[1880 - (Alfred) Damon Runyon, journalist, writer,
born in Manhattan, Kansas]

Actor Buster Keaton
[1895 - Buster (Joseph Frank) Keaton,
comedian, actor, born in Piqua, Kansas]

Actor Charlton Heston
[1924 - Charlton Heston (John Charlton Carter),
Academy Award-winning actor, born in Evanston, Illinois]

Sputnik I
[1957 - Sputnik I, first earth satellite, launched by Soviet Union]

Trial by Jury


The jury trial concept was introduced early into the American colonies that formed our great nation. The first colonists well understood the crucial importance of the right to trial by a jury of one's peers; a right that had been won at great cost from the English monarchs in the mother country. Unfortunately, the last half century of legal evolution in these United States has seen a continuing erosion of this key right.

On the criminal side, accused persons are frightened and coerced by prosecutors, judges, and their own defense counsel into accepting plea bargains in lieu of risking a trial that might result in a more severe sentence. On the civil side of the justice system, a whole industry has grown up around mediation, arbitration, and other forms of coerced settlement of cases. Instead of trying cases, most judges and lawyers now spend their time participating in and administering the behemoth called Discovery, a virtual bottomless pit for consuming legal resources. While the current system provides full employment for the thousands of new lawyers that pour out of our law schools each year, it is a far cry from justice, and serves the interests of the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of all the rest.


William's Whimsical Words:

The hard-won right to a jury trial ought to be valued more than just as a bargaining chip to be used to resolve cases.

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