Part 4a: JFR Trial – Jury Selection
Note on the Jury process: In the Watchtower Religious Court, the Judicial Committee acts as Prosecution, Jury, and Judge. The “accused” represents themselves privately before this religious court, with very limited rights, limited appeal rights, and is usually not permitted witnesses in their own behalf.
The American Civil Judicial system created a court system to end religious intolerance and governmental injustice by dividing the judicial powers into:
1. A Judge, who is supposed to be impartial, not governed by any pressures
2. A Prosecutor, whose only focus is the Truth
3. A Defense to use every means possible to defend the accused
4. The presumption of innocence, until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt
5. A Jury of Peers, to assure impartiality, and independence from the government
Jury selection was initially intended to be of one’s “peers”, such that a farmer accused of a crime would be judged by fellow farmers, likely one’s neighbors, to assure that fairness was tilted toward the accused. Jurors were also required to assure the court that they were impartial and would hear all the evidence before making a finding of innocence or guilt. Over time, ‘peers’ eventually meant any citizen off of the street. The laws were changed in most states to allow the Prosecution two closings, one to state their closing arguments to the Jury, followed by the Defense closing, and then the Prosecution to make any rebuttal to the Defense. This is true of both criminal and civil trials.
The 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States directs, that "the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury." The Jury system is also secured by several state constitutions. Some States, in small civil cases, allow for a Jury of 6, instead of the customary 12. The rules established can vary greatly in different states to secure impartial juries. In general, however, disinterested officers make the selection of persons who are to serve on the jury, in most States, with the jurors being selected by lot.
Initially Jury selection was a speedy process, and in most cases is that way to this day, except in high profile cases or serious murder cases where greater debate is allowed. The Defense attorneys in the United States have developed Jury selection to an art using outside expert counselors to study prospective jurors and assist the Defense in eliminating prospective Jurors who they believe may compromise their case. Nevertheless, the questioning process used for each Juror is still short, usually 1 to 3 minutes per Juror – for a total of 15 to 30 minutes – at most for the entire panel.
Armed with this understanding, let’s see how the Rutherford Defense attorney, Mr. Sparks and Mr. Fuller treat the Jurors, and how they almost pioneer a new frontier in Jury selection. There will also be a few surprises as we see how tolerant and fair the Court is with the Defense:
Jury Selection – Trial Transcript, pages 125 – 161, Sect 375, 376: For some reason, some of the Pre-Trial questioning was not recorded, or at least not provided in the Transcript. The Prosecution and Defense had 1 hour and 30 minutes to individually question the prospective Jurors, or about 8 minutes for each juror. (sometimes called Talesman in 1918) and the Court was getting weary:
COURT: He may be excused. (Talesman, Wilson)
COURT: What is the exception?
DEF Sparks: To preserve our record.
COURT: You took an exception.
DEF-Sparks: The Court has excluded the juryman for cause. I take it the cause is not sufficiently made out. I take an exception.
COURT: He said he read the book. (Finished Mystery)
DEF-Sparks: That’s the reason you released him. That’s the reason I made an objection.
COURT: You took an exception, not an objection. You merely spoke up saying, Counsel takes an exception,” when no objection is made. It is not reviewable. No error is committed. The Court is entitled to know what complaint you have to a certain ruling. I am mentioning this to protect your rights in the matter if you prefer.
DEF-Sparks: I take an objection and an exception.
[Note: The court here is being fair by coaching the Defense attorney to protect the defense rights. No railroading, no stacking the deck. You will see more of this as we go along.]
Jury Selection – Trial Transcript, pages 125 – 161, Sect 381 – 383:
COURT: Is it your purpose to challenge jurors because they have relatives in the army or draft age?
DEF-Sparks: I do not.
COURT: Then why ask it?
DEF-Sparks: I want to get their feelings on that point.
COURT: What further can you get?
DEF-Sparks: I might ask the question, and if it indicated to me the mere charge the Government made might prejudice them –
COURT: Why don’t you ask them that?
DEF-Sparks: I did not get to that.
COURT: We won’t spend any more time asking about relatives of draft age. Have you inquired of each juryman?
DEF-Sparks: On that point?
COURT: On any point?
DEF-Sparks: Separately on all questions I want to ask them?
COURT: Is there any juryman of whom you have not asked any questions?
DEF-Sparks: I think I have asked each juryman some questions.
COURT: We won’t ask any more. Your inquiry of them individually has ceased. We have taken an hour and a half with these twelve men. That is an hour and a quarter too much.
DEF-Sparks: Am I instructed –
COURT: Have you inquired of them each? I am not going to allow you to question each of them again.
Comments: As noted above, the individual questioning of each juror of the original panel, during the preceding hour and a half, was not recorded in the Transcript. However, the Court allowed the Defense more time to individually question alternative jurors, and to question the collective panel. Sometimes the Defense questioning was so strained that the Court had to rephrase questions so the jurors could make a sensible answer.
Part 4b will get into some of this questioning, the reasonableness of the Court, and a point in fact that surprised me, and maybe will surprise you too ... to be continued ...