How Juries Get it Wrong - Anatomy of the Detroit Terror Case
28 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2008
Date Written: October, 31 2008
Part II of this Article describes the background and trial of the four defendants in the so-called Detroit Sleeper Cell terrorist prosecution. It examines the evidence relied on by the jury to reach its verdict, particularly the testimony of a key turncoat witness who accused the defendants of participation in a terrorist conspiracy. Part III examines how the jury's search for truth was corrupted by false, misleading, and incomplete proof. It identifies several extrinsic sources of jury error including suppressed evidence, dishonest and unreliable testimony, partisan experts, coaching, obstructed cross-examination, and inflammatory arguments. Finally, with the Detroit terrorist trial as the model, Part IV concludes that while the process of selecting juries is effective in reducing the incidence of intrinsic factors that might impair a jury's decision, even the most fair-minded and competent jury is always vulnerable to extrinsic factors that might infect its verdict. Indeed, the Detroit case illustrates that an intrinsically competent jury able to parse the evidence and apply the law fairly and accurately will almost always make the wrong decision when its verdict is based on extrinsically defective evidence that has been improperly presented.
Keywords: juries, verdicts
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