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September 8, 2006

Marilyn vos Savant for the next SCOTUS seat!

I have finally discovered whom Blakely fans should support to fill the Supreme Court opening: Marilyn vos Savant.  As noted in her personal website and in this Wikipedia entry,  Marilyn vos Savant's main claim to fame comes from being listing in the Guinness Book of World Records under "Highest IQ".  But, more importantly for Blakely fans, check out this Q&A from a recent Parade column:

Q: If I'm guilty, I want a trial by jury; if I'm innocent, I want only an intelligent, impartial judge.  I served on a jury once and hope never to repeat the experience.  What is your opinion of the jury system?

A: You compared an average jury to an excellent judge!  Instead, you must compare an average jury to an average judge. My choice would depend on the case, but I know what I’d wish for: a trial by an intelligent, impartial jury. I’d feel much safer with six or 12 excellent jurors than with one excellent judge.

September 8, 2006 at 11:03 AM | Permalink


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Ah, but are you more likely to find 6-12 "excellent" jurors or 1 excellent jurist? I don't hold out much hope for either, actually.

Posted by: JDB | Sep 8, 2006 1:43:55 PM

Before you commend Ms. Vos Savant for her legal acumen, you might want to check out an answer she gave a couple of months back giving approval for a juror to ignore a judge's instruction to disregard inappropriately-obtained evidence that was exposed to the jury, because the "facts" were more important than how the State obtained them.

Posted by: | Sep 8, 2006 3:28:27 PM

Because I tend to be a fan of jury nullification,I am not sure I am too troubled by Ms. Vos Savant's vision of a juror's role. That said, I do think her answer might complicate her confirmation hearings.

Posted by: Doug B. | Sep 8, 2006 4:15:17 PM

I always thought that "jury nullification" was code for "the guy's guilty, acquit anyway 'cause the prosecution is bogus" (for whatever reason). Isn't it generally seen as a shield to be wielded against the oppressive power of the state? Turning it around ("I don't care what the judge says, the guy's guilty") seems very dangerous. What if the instruction the juror chose to ignore was the "beyond a reasonable doubt" one? Makes the whole _Blakely_/_Booker_ debate fairly meaningless, no?

Posted by: JDB | Sep 8, 2006 4:22:14 PM

There could be --- and has been --- lots of debate about what jury nullification means and should mean. I tend to think of it in terms of juries deciding broader conceptions of justice should trump the law as described by the judge.

For a good and interesting example of the kind of jury nullification advocated by vos Savant, watch the great Paul Newman movie The Verdict.

Posted by: Doug B. | Sep 8, 2006 6:02:05 PM

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