Bias Makes You Stupid, And Only Bias Can Explain Why A Prosecutor Would Argue That It Is Unethical To Ask a Juror About His Biases

Perhaps you have heard that a juror who joined in the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s henchwoman when he was luring young women into his sex-trafficking hobby had thrown her trial into limbo after admitting that he made a teeny, weenie, innocent “mistake” during the crucial jury selection process. The man identified as “Juror 50” told a federal judge in Manhattan that he had read too quickly through a pretrial screening questionnaire that asked potential jurors whether they had ever been sexually abused. This would seem to be a rather important question for jurors about to fairly judge, bias-free, a woman accused of helping to turn young women into virtual sex slaves for a sick billionaire and his pals, wouldn’t you think? Juror 50—his friends call him “Fif”—-checked a box indicating “no.” Here he is in a high profile trial in which justice for dozens of Epstein’s young victims as well as the freedom of the defendant is at stake, and the guy picks this as a good time to start practicing his speed-reading.

“This was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in my life,” Fifty told Judge Alison Nathan, during an hour-long hearing. “I didn’t lie in order to get on this jury.” That’s funny: it sure looks like he did. Thanks to 50’s ridiculous breach of responsibility, duty and competence, Maxwell, who was convicted on December 29 last year of sex-trafficking more, might walk free despite helping Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls for at least a decade. In deliberations.

Juror 50 revealed that during deliberations he told other jurors that he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse himself, and after the trial told the news media that he had helped other jurors understand things “from a victim’s point of view.” Now he claims that he made “an honest mistake.” It may have been honest, but it was neither ethical nor excusable. He’s tap-dancing as fast as he can because he falsely signed a document made under oath, and faces fines and imprisonment.

He should get both, just as Epstein’s co-monster deserves a new trial that doesn’t include a hidden sexual abuse activist on the jury.

But incredibly, Farhadian Weinstein, a former (thank God!) federal and state prosecutor, took to the opinion pages of the New York Times to argue that the question 50 chose not to answer is one that shouldn’t even be asked. Why? Because it’s just too darn painful, that’s why, and thus an innocent until proven guilty defendant should face imprisonment without knowing that a juror or jurors deciding his or her fate might have very good reason to want to see that defendant serve as a stand-in for their own abuser. Weinstein writes in part,

 Juror No. 50 never should have been asked about his history of sexual abuse in the first place.

The Sixth Amendment entitles every criminal defendant to a trial by impartial jurors. That’s why jurors are screened, whether orally or with questionnaires like the one in Ms. Maxwell’s case….The idea is to identify jurors whose experiences could render them unable to be fair and impartial. By this logic, it may seem reasonable to ask potential jurors during selection for a sex crime trial whether they have ever experienced sexual violence. Lawyers on both sides may have good reasons for wanting to know.

Gee, ya think? How could the author write that accurate assessment of why it is crucial for potential jurors to flag their past as a sex abuse victim, and go on to the bizarre conclusion he reaches?

Well, it takes a lot of dubious logic. First he tries an “everybody does it” argument: “For one thing, sexual violence is extremely pervasive.” So what? Then he cites familiar and excessive “estimates” of the extent of sexual abuse that are used by activists like the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. This leads him to the ridiculous leap that “questionnaires like the one in the Maxwell case want to know what friends and family have suffered, too, making it tough to imagine who could possibly say ‘no.’” Yes, in the United States of America, everyone is a victim of sexual abuse!

Thus, the ex-prosecutor argues, “these queries can turn a sacred civic responsibility into a source of humiliation and disrespect…If you are among the vast majority who choose silence after such a crime, imagine how jarring it would be to be required to identify yourself as a victim in court.” Well first, I don’t believe for a second that the vast majority of Americans have been sexually abused, and the data is far from convincing enough to change my mind. Second, nothing stops a potential juror from telling the judge and the lawyers that he or she has a disqualifying bias that cannot be addressed except by excluding that juror from service. If necessary, the juror could meet privately with the judge, but lying about the bias on the questionnaire is not an option.

“These questions also imply that sexual violence carries a taint and makes for defective jurors,” Weinstein writes. Word games. “Taint” is a negative term that implies fault on the part of the jurors. The accurate word is bias. “Lying” is the “taint,” and Juror 50 lied. Then the author goes completely off the rails, asking, “Do we really want to stack our juries with “objective” people who believe — no doubt often incorrectly — that they don’t know anyone who has ever been sexually harassed, abused or assaulted? Wouldn’t such a jury have biases of its own?”  How does something a juror doesn’t know create a bias? 

It is clear what’s going on here: a prosecutor, knowing that allowing jurors to weigh the evidence against accused sexual abusers will vastly improve the chances of getting defendants like Maxwell convicted, is making an intellectually dishonest case for allowing biased jurors to be impaneled.

That’s because he is biased.

And it led to this stupid pro-bias opinion piece.

 

10 thoughts on “Bias Makes You Stupid, And Only Bias Can Explain Why A Prosecutor Would Argue That It Is Unethical To Ask a Juror About His Biases

  1. Goodness, what a pathetic excuse for an opinion. It is so bad I literally cringed.

    This is supposedly a lawyer opining thus. Such people are exposed to many things, most of which involve the application of logic and reasoning. Aristotle supposedly described the law as reason unaffected by desire.

    This man twists that thinking on it’s head, demanding that people who’s reason is likely affected by passionate feelings be allowed to try to produce a fair result, because excluding them because of their passion and biases might make them feel bad. Has he forgotten that our constitution is about protecting the fairness of process for the accused, not the feelz of the jurors?

    Maybe he never knew it to begin with? “Reason unaffected by desire” seems to be out of vogue in law schools these days…

  2. Good but absolutely horrifying article on the degradation of the American legal system: https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-takeover-of-americas-legal-system?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjozMzk0Njk4MCwicG9zdF9pZCI6NTA1NTc5MDUsIl8iOiJENTcvZiIsImlhdCI6MTY0Nzg4ODYwOCwiZXhwIjoxNjQ3ODkyMjA4LCJpc3MiOiJwdWItMjYwMzQ3Iiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.DDJjMZFMAyxPX8qaJDDrZb_Qe9HVhYQXy-TzgLSilPM&s=r

    Until I read this, I did not know the Arizona Supreme Court has eliminated peremptory challenges to seating jurors! Caramba!

    • That was an excellent article by Bari Weiss.

      Glenn asked, “Has he forgotten that our constitution is about protecting the fairness of process for the accused, not the feelz of the jurors?”

      If we read the prosecutor’s position in conjunction with the move to end peremptory challenges, then it makes perfect sense. Peremptory challenges are typically unlimited; challenges for cause are limited by state law and once a party exhausts such challenges the party is stuck with the results. We are not looking for fair trials – we are merely looking for justifiable outcomes. Under the movement identified in the Weiss article, Maxwell is not even entitled to competent, zealous representation.

      jvb

      • jvb– I think its the other way around, on challenges.The challenge for cause is unlimited, so long as the judge buys the reason offered. The peremptory challenges are set by law, or at the wishes of the court, depending on circumstances. No reason is stated: “the defense thanks and excuses number 13…”

        • Likely typo, A.M.

          Interesting, isn’t it? Aren’t peremptory challenges favorable to defendants? Here I thought anyone indicted or charged with a crime was unjustly accused by a crooked police and unjustly prosecuted by white supremacist prosecutors. For example, isn’t it called The Innocence Project?

        • You are correct. I have it backwards. I stand . . .erm . . . sit . . . corrected. The difference is a peremptory challenge is for any reason – the color of shoes, etc. A challenge for cause must have a specific reason, and there is a limit to challenges for cause.

          jvb

    • And California recently enacted legislation severely limiting the reason one might peremptorily challenge a juror. Fair trials will soon be as scarce as hen’s teeth, if not so already.

  3. Why? Because it’s just too darn painful, that’s why, and thus an innocent until proven guilty defendant should face imprisonment without knowing that a juror or jurors deciding his or her fate might have very good reason to want to see that defendant serve as a stand-in for their own abuser.”

    I don’t know what is argued as I can’t specifically view the article, but I feel like something obvious is missing here. If the experience is too traumatizing to even check a box they have no business being on a jury where they will hear accounts, see details, and witness cross-examination.

  4. “Do we really want to stack our juries with “objective” people who believe — no doubt often incorrectly — that they don’t know anyone who has ever been sexually harassed, abused or assaulted? Wouldn’t such a jury have biases of its own?”

    If they don’t believe they know anybody who was sexually assaulted, then the concerning factor regarding bias is not in play. They may well know several sexual assault victims, but (as the prosecutors here says) if the victims chose “silence”, then their plight is unknown to the potential juror, and he could honestly state he does not know any victims.

  5. Just finished watching a BBC series entitled “The Jury.” It seems that in their system jurors are selected merely by lot (computer algorithm). There is no voyeur, no questioning of the jury, no challenges, etc. Whoever, the algorithm picks, sits. One episode showed that an autistic young man received his summons to the jury on his 18th birthday. He served. Another showed a man just released from alcoholic rehabilitation called and served. There was also a sideline subject where the House of Commons passed legislation to eliminate trial by jury. It did not survive the House of Lords. This leads to the question why do we allow the elimination of potential jurors, either for cause or peremptory? Is it necessary for justice to be rendered?

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