Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Courts need help to impanel fairer juries

Michigan will be voting 13 days from now for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice. I wonder how many bother to look at the candidates and compare them before they vote for this very important position.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a strong advocate for Trial By Jury. We all know that we have a problem with our justice system but few people I speak with are willing to give their time to learn about the power and duty of juries or want to here about their civic duty to serve on a jury.

The first problem lies in MCL 600.8381 (1)(b) which authorizes the a $9.00 assessment fee to be collected for each conviction, civil infraction and each guilty plea or civil infraction admission.

(b) Beginning October 1, 2003, the clerk shall transmit $9.00 of any costs assessed before October 1, 2003 to the justice system fund created in section 181 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.181.

Now you have to look up MCL 6000.181 to find out where this money is going. Here's the break down.

600.181 Justice system fund; creation; use; disposition; investment; distributions.

Sec. 181.

(1) The justice system fund is created in the state treasury. The money in the fund shall be used as provided in this section.

iv) To the secretary of the legislative retirement system for deposit with the state treasurer in the retirement fund created in the Michigan legislative retirement system act, 1957 PA 261, MCL 38.1001 to 38.1080, 1.2% of the fund balance.

(vii) To the state court fund created in section 151a, 14.3% of the fund balance.

(viii) To the court equity fund created in section 151b, 25.55% of the fund balance.

So now we have to look up Sec. 151b to find out where 25.55% of this fund goes.

Sec. 151b.

(c) Excess court fees transmitted by the state treasurer pursuant to section 217 of the judges retirement act of 1992, Act No. 234 of the Public Acts of 1992, being section 38.2217 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

That's right! Your state Legislator receives 1.2% of this special assessment in their retirement. As far as I'm concerned, this is a conflict or bribe that encourages the state legislator to pass more laws that create more human actions against the law.

And Judges receive 25.55% in their retirement fund. Another conflict of interest. How many times have you heard someone say that they didn't get a fair trial? The most common complaints are that the jury didn't get to see their evidence, hear their witness, or examine the law itself to make a determination of guilt or innocence.

So who do we vote for in this coming election to the position of Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court?

I found this op/ed article written by Clifford W. Taylor, who is asking Michigan to re-elect him as chief justice of Michigan.

My opinion is that each person in this state has a duty to identify the problem, then research to find the person who is most likely to bring about effective changes to correct the problem.

Ask those who are running for a position in the state legislator if they will repeal MCL 600.8381 (1)(b), and then ask candidates who are running for positions on school boards if they will add civics to the school curriculum. This means that they start teaching the Power and Duty of a fully informed citizen body of government sitting in the jury box.

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