+quot;Maxi-FIJA+quot; We regularly get asked for more powerful bills than we've so far bee

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"Maxi-FIJA" We regularly get asked for more powerful bills than we've so far been proposing to state legislatures. If an idea seems to have merit, we try to pursue it to the point of either abandoning it or recommending reform. The surviving cluster of additional and vital jury-system reforms that we support has been dubbed "Maxi-FIJA": "Whenever a person is engaged in a legal action to which the government is a party, and where failure to prevail in that action could cost the person more than 24 hours of incarceration or fines, liability, or confiscated property equivalent in value to one quarter ounce of gold or more, the person's right to trial by jury is invoked. In order to meet its responsibility to provide a full and fair hearing of the case, the jury (1) shall be informed of its inherent right to bring in a general verdict, thus to judge both law and fact and to appeal to conscience in deciding whether a defendant is or is not guilty or liable, or in determining a sentence or an award; (2) may request, or in any event may hear and consider arguments concerning the motives of both plaintiff and defendant, as well as arguments concerning the morality, constitutionality, spirit, intent, or applicability of the law in the case before it; (3) may at any time during the trial direct questions of law to the bench and may, through the bench, direct questions of fact and opinion to witnesses during their testimony; (4) shall, with guidance from the court, decide on any restrictions to place upon the kinds of language or testimony it may hear, the sorts of evidence it may witness, and types of arguments it may consider, in accordance with all the limitations which are placed upon our government by the Constitution, and due respect for the inalienable rights of individuals which that document expresses or implies; (5) shall be advised of the range of sentences or other sanctions which may apply should the defendant be found guilty of any criminal charges brought, or any charges wholly contained within them or, where it qualifies as a separate charge, for attempting any crime of which he or she is accused, including advice on typical time served and probable parole opportunities; likewise shall any limits on liability on the part of each and every party to a civil action be revealed and explained to the jury; (6) shall be counseled that reaching a verdict either of guilty or not guilty is possible only if all jurors agree, but that they are not required to agree, and may end their deliberations without agreement; nor are they required to reveal how each or any juror voted, or why. Failure to observe one or more of the above provisions for trial by a fully informed jury entitles the person to a new trial by jury, to be conducted according to these provisions. Active disregard, disparagement, denial, or rejection of any of these provisions shall be construed as jury tampering, and be punishable as such." RELATED REFORMS --recently proposed for inclusion in Maxi-FIJA-- (1) Providing that the prosecution shall have no peremptory challenges, and that challenges for cause are confined to establishing a direct conflict of interest between a juror and the defendant; (2) Ensuring improved protection of trial juror privacy, reduction of trial costs, and that the ideal of a "jury of peers" is more closely approached--by elimination of the voir dire (a more comprehensive proposal than (1), but similar in intent); (3) Disallowing plea bargaining of any kind prior to the trial, but where juries decide sentences, providing for "sentence bargaining" between a convict, his jury, and any victims or their families; (4) In states where juries decide sentences, advising jurors of a defendant's criminal history after their determination of guilt, but before they decide upon a sentence; (5) Protecting the sentence decided by a jury by providing that any pardon or parole must be unanimously approved by another jury; (6) Providing that any and all appeals also be heard by a jury; (7) Requiring that grand juries be advised of their right to judge both law and fact when issuing reports, presentments, and/or indictments.


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