Saturday, March 10, 2012

On jury service

Being called for jury service (I hope to be excused because obv. not being paid for two weeks would be a huge burden on me) has made me reflect on a few of the things that are wrong with jury service.

You are not paid. The government wants me to do two weeks' unpaid work for it. (In effect, because it will not compensate me for my lost pay, it wants me to pay for my own service to it.) You can counterargue that I am a citizen and it's my own justice system, but it is not. No one consults me on the laws that are applied and no one asks me who should apply them. I do not select magistrates or judges, and I do not have a say in which laws should apply in our nation or what the outcomes of those laws should be. You can argue that I am forced to vote for representatives who do decide them but those representatives do not consult me either. I am compelled to obey the law: I am not asked to consent to it. My belief is that, broadly, things should only be forbidden that I would consent to being forbidden for myself, and things should only be forbidden for me that I wish forbidden for others. So murder's out, but smoking weed is not. I may not like taxes but I want others to pay them.

So the government wants me to be part of a jury for it, but doesn't want to pay for my time. It should. It should fully compensate me for the time it wants me to spend pursuing its ends. It is responsible for justice and maintaining order. I am not. It makes it clear I am not by not permitting me to express my own view on what is just and what is not. I cannot confiscate wealth, which I believe to be just, and if I do so, I will myself be imprisoned.

Another problem lies in conscience. I cannot in good conscience commit someone to prison for something I do not believe is wrong, even if the state insists that it is wrong. I will not find someone guilty for drug possession, regardless of the evidence. I will not find someone guilty for petty crimes that I believe should not be punished with jail time. I don't believe it serves anything to send burglars to jail. No one becomes a burglar if they have good alternatives, and the state should devote more time to helping create good alternatives than it does on raving about how it will be tough on crime. Many burglaries are done by drug addicts: I will not punish people for the circumstances of their life leading them to drug addiction and I will not punish anyone for the government's insistence on creating scarcity in the drug market so that prices are artificially high. I will not find someone guilty for resisting arrest or for assaulting a police officer because I believe the police are politicised thugs, who invent their own version of justice on the street, and should be resisted. I could never be sure that the person who assaulted the copper did not have reason to, because I believe the police routinely lie and falsify evidence.

On the other hand, if you are on trial for a crime that is very difficult to prove and difficult to bring to trial, I will automatically find you guilty unless there is very good reason to find you innocent. Yes, I know this runs counter to the presumption of innocence, but I can't be compelled to abide by that. The prosecution service has lawyers who carefully weigh the evidence and decide whether there's a case. I think that makes you likely to be guilty if they decide there is. Very few people have been falsely convicted of murder, for instance, and vanishingly few are acquitted. That doesn't mean that no one is innocent, only that I will presume they are guilty unless evidence compels me to think otherwise. If you are on trial for serious fraud, you might just as well not have the case though. It's close to impossible to bring a serious fraud case, because jurors cannot usually follow the intricacies and wrongly acquit people who are quite clearly guilty. So the prosecution service tends to need to be very confident in these cases. Their judgement is much better than mine, so I will find serious fraudsters instaguilty and not worry about it.

Personally, I also have focus issues, and cannot sit and listen to people talk. I've never been diagnosed with ADD or whatever (although I'm sure I easily could), but I would surely be held in contempt of court for not seeming to pay attention. In fact, the only way I could bear to be talked at for hours on end would be to read or do something else at the same time.

I do not believe in civic duty. I do not consent to our form of government and I have not signed the so-called social contract. Government is an expression of the current power structure in a nation and its priorities. It should not be confused with the civil structures that on the whole protect us from the exercise of power. Anarchists should never be willing to serve the government unless it is employing them. The government wants me to serve it but doesn't want to pay me, and I'm sorry but I don't want the job, thanks.


At 1:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are more warped than I thought.


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