In a New York Times Article the Judiciary is quoted as saying that the criminal trial is becoming a rare occurrence in the American courtroom. A national reduction in the number of trials, “both criminal and civil, has been noted in law journal articles, bar association studies and judicial opinions.” This trend is a loss for the American Justice System because it is common knowledge that our system is one where justice is handed out by a jury of our peers. The amount of criminal trials in the past varies substantially with the amount of criminal trials in today’s courtrooms. “Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.” This type of change in the courthouse can affect judges, lawyers, court stenographers, and clerks in a big way. A jury trial is a “hallowed… right enshrined in the constitution and immortalized in American Culture.”
As a primary example, Mississippi enacted a new law called the DUI transparency act which is set to take affect October 1, 2016. This new act redefines DUI punishments for second DUI offenses to a maximum of six months in jail. This change makes DUI second offenses petty crimes and ineligible for jury trials. Now over 90% of all DUI offenses (1st and 2nd DUI offenses) do not qualify for trial by jury (at the discretion of the trial judge). This legislation effectively extinguishes jury trials in DUI cases except in DUI felonies (3rd DUI in 5 years or DUI’s with injuries and certain commercial drivers issues).
The right to a trial by jury is a cornerstone of the American Justice system. For a further discussion on your rights, please call the Law Office of Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon at 601-948-4444 or visit www.mississippidui.com for more information.
For more information on this article please visit http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/nyregion/jury-trials-vanish-and-justice-is-served-behind-closed-doors.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=0