Jury Tampering: What’s on Offer?

Probably one of the most famous cases of jury tampering involves actor Tom Hanks. According to The Daily Mail, the Forrest Gump star was serving his jury duty for a domestic violence case when the ‘alleged’ jury tampering incident happened. The lawsuit made headlines not because of the defendant or the accuser, but because of Tom Hanks. TMZ reported that the Hollywood star was engaged in a ‘conversation’ by a woman who works for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. The said lady approached Hanks and thanked him ‘for doing his civic duty.’

There are also much publicized jury tampering incidents mainly because of the accused and the nature of the crime. That being said, how does jury tampering transpires?

Jury tampering is described as attempts to sway jury members through bribes in the form of money, escorts or celebrity sex; threats; and disallowed conversations. One of the not-so-unusual circumstances is when a lawyer involved in an ongoing case discussed the lawsuit unknowingly in the presence of a member of the jury. Here are more examples of jury tamperings in the United States:

1. The Steven Avery Case

Just recently, Netflix streamed a ‘docu-series’ of the case of Steven Avery. If you’re following the show, then you’d know that it’s not the first time that Avery was tried and convicted ‘for something he did not do’ or so to speak. In the light of the recent docu-series, ‘evidences’ have come up that the case was goaded with vendetta alongside police corruption and whatnot. Jury tampering speculations have sparked when Sheriff Pagel, one of the star personalities of the case, was present at the dinner of the juries in a restaurant. It was said that this instance ‘have undoubtedly’ influenced the jury’s decision.

2. Charles Ng’s Court Proceedings

Charles Ng, then-US Marine, was accused of 11 counts of murder for his sex-and-torture murder rampage in the late 1990s. Although there was no involvement of threats or briberies directed to a juror, Ng was said to have called a jury member which is a violation of the jury’s conduct.

3. Henley’s Drug Case

Darryl Henley was a former NFL player. He was indicted for drug charges and was later on found guilty of the accusation. During the trial, Henley was alleged to have played a role on bribing $50,000 to jurors for their not guilty votes.

The Dangers of Sitting on the Jury: Physical Tension

Usually, when we consider the dangers of doing jury duty, we think about the threat from organised crime and malevolent psychopaths. Many of us baulk at the task of sitting in judgement upon our fellow human beings and fear some form of reprisal. However, a more immediate danger is the unhealthy nature of all that sitting for hours at a time in stressful circumstances. There is tension in the air when you are carefully concentrating on important evidence and you are being reminded by lawyers and judge to really listen.

The Dangers of Sitting on the Jury: Physical Tension

Someone’s life could be at stake; their liberty may well be on the line. What if you make a mistake? What if you get it wrong? The pressure is building hour after hour, day after day. You cannot share anything with family or loved ones, you are alone with your burden. The burden of justice. How will you cope? Your muscles will tighten and joints stiffen under the sustained duress of the onslaught of important, no vital, information. “The devil is in the detail!” Have you heard that expression before? It means that evil can hide in the fine print, in those complicated legal arguments that the defence or prosecution is making.

Courtrooms need an osteopath, or two, or a team of physical therapists to relieve the stress on the members of the jury. Will justice be served by the suffering of twelve good men and women? As they cramp on their bench, twitch with the tension, and every joint cries out to be massaged for the good of Athena and her scales of justice. Weighing the souls of those on trial can be strenuous work. Heavy lifting on the metaphysical realm and their duty can be onerous on more than one astral plane.

The dangers of sitting on the jury: Physical tension is only the beginning really. What about all that guilt, if you think that you might have got it wrong and convicted an innocent person. Sent a victim to the gas chamber or to prison for the rest of their lives. To death by lethal injection for something they never done. A miscarriage of justice can derail a juror’s life, send them spinning into an oblivion of unforeseen consequences. So, pity the juror and lend them a hand with some healing attention. Massage away the horrible tension, relieve the stress, for Athena’s sake.

Can You Sue Your Health Practitioner?

Of course you can sue your health practitioner, in the States it is almost di rigour to do so. In other nations, like England and Australia, it is fast catching on as well. Doctors are not inviolable, neither are they perfect, nor omnipotent or omniscient. I have laboured that point somewhat because we have been brought up to think so. The majority of us whenever we someone in a white coast we go down on one knee, metaphorically speaking. A hundred years of MD and GP PR has seen us all OTT with unreserved gratitude for good doctors and the role they play in our societies.

Can You Sue Your Health Practitioner?

That is not to say that there are not a good proportion of conscientious and well-meaning medical doctors out there. There are, as in everything, some not so fine examples of the profession in existence as well. This goes for all your healthcare practitioners, be they surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, and the myriad of different types in-between. People make mistakes, and despite protestations by some grateful parents of sick children who have been cured, and some clients themselves, they are just people. Albeit highly trained healthcare professionals as well.

I say it again, ‘people make mistakes’, and in this highly litigious time we live in, we demand that people pay for those mistakes.  It is an age which trumpets a high standard of accountability, or put another way, we like to blame someone whatever the situation. If chiropractic treatment for back pain ends up crippling you or making it much, much, worse, then you can sue that practitioner, and as a member of his or her official association that chiropractor will be insured to cover your legal suit and damages if it is successful.

Injury compensation cases against doctors are similarly covered by their membership to their association in the instance of alleged medical malpractice. Which is why these memberships are compulsory and cost their members a substantial annual fee. The system protects the healthcare practitioners, and you, through this indemnity insurance. Which is another reason why it is more dangerous to seek healthcare from unlicensed and un-indemnified practitioners. Lawyers are more than happy to take on injury compensation cases when they see valid grounds to prosecute them on your behalf. Often, they offer a no win no fee basis, but remember in this situation if they do win they take something like a third of your fee, or whatever has been originally negotiated prior to taking your case.

The Jury Selection Process: A Job or a Duty?

Jury duty may seem to some a bit of a doddle, but just because you are sitting down most of the time does not mean it is not onerous. It may not be immediately physically demanding, it is, however, mentally and emotionally demanding. It is almost impossible not to engage with what is happening for the accused. The whole structure and set up of jury duty forces you to confront the guilt or innocence of the man or woman in the dock. Their life is on the line and it is, in part, in your hands; only a psychopath would not feel that.

The Jury Selection Process: A Job or a Duty?

You need to be paying attention at all times to the arguments and evidence being put forward by both the prosecution and the defence. You cannot miss a minute! You need good hearing and a clear head. Most often the juror will put himself or herself in the position of the victim and of the accused to imagine what it is like and to try and understand the motivation and rationality of the various arguments. It’s more gruelling than working as a cleaner, let me tell you, I know from experience.

It is definitely a duty and it is rarely easy, especially if it is a long drawn out trial. The sustained pressure and stress you can feel as a juror is not readily imagined by most people. Usually in life we are only really looking out for members of our immediate family. Suddenly, you are thrust into the midst of a collection of very intense people and they are looking to you to concentrate 24/7. They are expecting that you will deliver justice and the weight of those scales can bear down upon you.

If you are caught up in a long trial, these people, these fellow jurors can become like a surrogate family, with all the dysfunctionality that accompanies most families at various times. On a twelve-person jury there will be several people you identify with, that you most probably agree with, and may even empathise with. In much the same way, there will be several jurors who you just can’t stand, who really rub you up the wrong way, and who you vehemently disagree with. This is reliably true in any group of twelve people whatever the circumstances, but it is intensified in this pressure cooker atmosphere. Do your duty and then get the hell out of there. It isn’t usually pleasant, but it is an integral part of our justice system.

Debt Collection Legalities: What Can Or Can’t Be Done?

Debt-Collection-Legalities-What-Can-Or-Cant-Be-Done

Debt issues can be hard to manage, as you find yourself falling behind on monthly bills. Getting a call from persistent debt collector makes it more stressful. A debt collector could be the service provider collecting the debt or a debt collection company acting on the creditor’s behalf. If you don’t contact your provider or you refuse to respond to them, a debt collector may contact you. If the debt remains unpaid, the creditor can proceed with legal action against you. Take action quickly to avoid the situation getting worse. You could end up with a bigger debt, you can lose your home or possessions or you could end up paying money you don’t really have to pay.

A debt collection company make a business of getting debts paid. They may pursue you persistently to demand payment. If you are dealing with a debt collection company, it is important for you to know your rights.  Learn what can or can’t be done by debt collectors to help you deal with them and get protected for their approaches to debt collection.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from illegal debt collection activities of debt collectors except creditor’s in-house debt collectors. This federal law governs debt collection for personal, family and household debts like personal loans, credit card loan, car loan, past-due utility bills, student loans, medical and insurance debts, bounced checks, and unpaid legal judgments against you. You can use your knowledge of these laws to protect yourself from harassment. If the debt collector violates the law, you can use the violation to negotiate better settlement or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or sue the collector.

What can debt collectors do?

Debt collectors  can contact you in different ways, by phone, email, social media, letter or personal visit. There is no need for personal visit if there is a repayment arrangement made over the phone, letter or email. Debt collectors can use email, social media or digital technology to contact you, but it must not be shared with another person or viewed by anyone except you. Debt collectors can only communicate  with you to:

  • Provide information about your account
  • Make demand for payment
  • Offer account settlement or alternative payment arrangements
  • Review existing arrangements
  • Explain legal consequences of not paying
  • Explain restrictions or disconnection of your utilities
  • Find out why you are not responding to contact attempts
  • Find out your reason for not keeping the agreed repayment plan

Debt collectors are only allowed to contact your lawyer, your credit reporting agency and the original creditor. Collectors can also contact your spouse, parents if you’re a minor and your co-debtors to find information about your whereabouts.

Illegal Debt Collection Practices
Debt collection companies cannot do any of the following to collect a debt from you:

  • Call you at inconvenient time, before 8:00am or after 9:00pm unless you tell them to do so.
  • Call you on a Sunday
  • Contact you at work if your employer does not allow you to be contacted during working hours.
  • Get in touch with your employer about your debt, unless it’s a past-due child support
  • Contact your relatives, friends or neighbours about your debt in order to embarrass you into paying
  • Use postcard or envelope that clearly indicates the debt collector’s purpose
  • Use letter or envelope like the government agency or the court.
  • Order you to accept calls from them

Harassment
Debt collection companies cannot engage in conduct that can harass, oppress or abuse you. They cannot:

  • Call you repeatedly during relatively short period of time, this can be considered harassment
  • Call you without identifying the bill collector
  • Use obscene or abusive language
  • Use or threaten to use violence
  • Threaten to harm you, your reputation or your property
  • Publish your name as a person who doesn’t pay debt

False or Misleading Representations

  • Claim to be a law enforcement agency that is connected with federal, state or local government
  • Claim to be a lawyer or the communication is from a lawyer
  • Claim that you’ll be put in prison or your property will be taken
  • Communicate false credit information
  • Threaten to take action that is not intended to be taken
  • Falsely claim you’ve committed a crime
  • Threaten to sell your debt to a third party
  • Send you a document that looks like a court order
  • Use a false business name or claim to be employed by a credit bureau

Unfair Practices

  • A debt collection company cannot engage in any unfair method to collect a debt from you. They can’t:
  • Add interest, fees or charges that is not included in the original agreement
  • Collect more what you owe
  • Deposit postdated check prior to the date on the check
  • Accept postdated check by more than five days unless they notify you in advance
  • Solicit postdated check to threaten you with prosecution
  • Threaten to repossess your property

It is important to know your rights so you won’t be intimidated by debt collectors. Stand up for your debt collection rights and don’t allow them to harass you with unfair and illegal tactics. If you receive notice that you are being taken to court, get legal advice as soon as possible. Don’t ignore the notice but take action immediately. Get advice from financial counselor to know the best option available for you is. If the debt collection company break any of these rules, feel free to report them to your state attorney general’s office, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

Betting On Legal Outcomes: On A Mobile Near You

One might think that betting on the outcome of a murder trial may, perhaps, be illegal, but you would be wrong. The Oscar Pistorius retrial in South Africa has an Irish corporate bookmaker Paddy Power taking bets on the outcome. It seems that many of these corporate bookmakers are beyond the reach of the law, as they operate in international waters, so to speak. There have been calls from women’s groups to have the ads promoting this bet banned, but at this stage nothing has happened.

Betting On Legal Outcomes: On A Mobile Near You

Murder trials, in particular, have always captured the public’s taste for revenge and spite. I imagine that communities have been betting on legal outcome for literally thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans would have, for sure, in ancient times bet on the results of trials happening within their cities. Bookmakers will take bets on just about anything. The law is only really concerned with there being any undue influence being brought to bear on a legal outcome. So, get ready to see more markets being framed on juicy murder trials and the like.

The only thing holding certain corporate bookmakers back from more activities like this in the legal sphere is the bad publicity from interest groups connected to things like crimes against women, as in the Pistorius murder trial. Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend dead and claimed that he thought that she was an intruder. Negative campaigns against high profile corporate bookmakers could damage their public profiles, which could then lead them to losing marketshare and/or their licenses, based on bringing the industry into disrepute. Also, angering the legal profession and judicial industry may not prove to be a sound long-term strategy for any corporation.

The Paddy Power promotion offering odds on the outcome of the Pistorius retrial may be the forerunner of more of this kind of thing or it may be a one off. It can be viewed as a normalisation of a callous and disrespectful stance towards the legal system in the West. It sends the message that the legal system is no longer sacrosanct, but, rather, is open game for recreational gambling. It belittles both victim and perpetrator in something as serious as murder or manslaughter. As Paddy Power operate in the United Kingdom, turning over revenue in excess of eight hundred million Euros annually, they may feel that South Africa is a long way away and their actions are cavalier because they predict no backlash in their own backyard.

The Digital Jury: Online and Global

There are discussions, happening within governments and the judiciary, as to the relevance of juries in the twenty first century. Are twelve good men and women, which used to be ‘twelve good men and true’ prior to women getting things like the vote and places in the judicial system, still necessary to the workings of justice today. The roots of our judicial system go back to the times of ancient Greece and Rome, some two and a half millennia ago. In Athens and Rome citizens would vote on the guilt or innocence of those being tried.

The Digital Jury: Online and Global

We in the West have been voting on juries in much the same way ever since. The argument in legal circles has centred on situations where jurors, having no specialist knowledge, being asked to sit in judgement upon highly complex cases which really demand extensive background information and training. The jury is the only democratic part of our judicial systems, the rest being run by an exclusive elite in lawyers and judges. When considering the impact of technology upon the legal system we have seen in-camera trials using video screens. Could the digital jury be the next step?

The trouble with digital technology and the online realm through social media has already become a thorn in the justice system’s side. Leaving jurors at home to decide on the merits or failings, guilt or innocence, of differing sides in a legal dispute only really compounds the problems of restricted information findings its way into the public sphere. The technology, like procedure and compliance software already exists to make a digitalised jury a working reality. I can see it having a ready-made purpose in international trials where individuals can give evidence from their own countries, without the expense and hassle of travelling to another country.

An online digital presence in these circumstances could be very useful to the economical workings of justice. Similarly, this could work within countries, affording witnesses the chance to give evidence without leaving their homes or states. You could still lock-up jurors and witnesses within their own homes or at specially run institutions to prevent them from releasing restricted information until the trial was over. The debate continues as to whether this lock-down on courtroom evidence is really necessary in the twenty first century. The diffusion of influence through the continuing demise of traditional media platforms makes an argument for the dropping of the jury black-out.

Staying Off Social Media: Challenges and Temptations

Many of us have witnessed the trouble that sporting and entertainment celebrities get into via social media. It seems that some people have a problem with staying off social media. Similarly, jurors are at risk of derailing justice if they defy instructions and share restricted information with friends and family via social media. Trials must be free from undue influence; they must exist within a bubble where only those taking part in the courtroom action are privy to what is going on. The instantaneous and open nature of digital communication makes it unsuitable for the arcane world of the legal system.

Staying Off Social Media: Challenges and Temptations

It is hard not to imagine that in reality wives and husbands do discuss the merits of a case when one of them is on jury duty. For some people, the temptation is just too much and they value their relationships more than the judicial system. If this restricted and sensitive information remains within that marriage bubble it probably does no real damage. However, if that information moves outside of that tryst through the loose lips of a spouse or partner to work friends, then things are looking rather shaky.

Social media serves the exchange of free information very well; it is an excellent news channel. The goings on inside of a courthouse is not free information, it is restricted information; and the participants within the trial must be protected from undue outside influence. Loose lips sink ships, as the old wartime cliché used to warn its community members. In much the same way, the good ship justice will be torpedoed by the free exchange of information pertaining to the guilt or innocence of those being tried.

Just imagine the Twitters and Facebook rants if the wider community had access to this highly sensitive information. Wikileaks would like to see the entire legal system an open book online I would imagine. Pinterest and Instagram could show pictures of child sexual abuse to their global audiences. Everything would then be trial by public opinion. Democracy at its finest mudslinging mob inspired vitriolic best.

The judicial systems in the West are not perfect, and they may seem old and outdated to those who have not really thought things through. The mob are not by nature deep thinkers, they lurch from one presumption to another. Lawyers and judges are members of an exclusive elite who argue and sit in judgement upon the transgressions committed by community members; they are specifically trained to do so. Jurors are not even amateurs, because they do not do it for the love it. They are conscripted into the service of the judicial system on a case by case basis. Democracy has no place within our legal system, excepting when the jury votes.  Social media black-outs must continue for jurors, if we are to protect the sacrosanct nature of the law.

Can Being a Juror Destroy Your Life?

We have all seen the movies where jurors are asked to sit in judgement upon their fellow human beings and the dramatic struggles they have endured through this process. That old saying about not throwing stones if you live in glass houses comes to mind. When asking the question, can being a juror destroy your life? I would answer in the affirmative. Being asked by the state to judge one of your peers is a situation fraught with inherent dangers. I would not go lightly into such a position. Justice is the bearer of a very sharp sword, along with those scales she carries to weigh the merits and failings of those who are judged.

Can Being a Juror Destroy Your Life?

Starting with the basic necessity of having to take time off work and, perhaps, away from family can be a huge burden for some individuals. This, however, is the price we all must pay for a judicial system which is there to protect us through the prosecution of transgressors. In some instances, the instruction not to discuss the case sub judice with friends or family can be a wedge within existing important relationships like marriages. Some people share absolutely everything with their partners and not to do so can feel like a betrayal for them.

Then there are the jurors who can become traumatised by exposure to shocking images and narratives, and who can become burdened by responsibility, and also burdened by guilt about their verdicts. Think of child pornography cases and sexual abuse trials. Exposure to these vile images can leave life-long scars on certain individuals. Mothers with small children and sensitive people of all ages and gender may regret their participation. Extreme violence and the resultant physical damage upon the victims can also negatively affect certain people for years afterwards. Stress-related issues such as impotence have been linked to intense exposure to stuff like this.

Can being a juror destroy your life? What about the juror who is caught amid conflicting verdicts within a jury group and the pressure involved in that? Group dynamics can be very cruel in these situations. Then there is the fear of jury tampering by organised crime figures and the perceived danger to families and friends. Threats made to jurors when the system breaks down and fails to protect the juror. Yes, a juror can have his or her life destroyed in these life threatening circumstances. What price integrity?

 

 

Jury The Biggest and Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency in USA

The fully informed jury is the biggest and most powerful law enforcement agency in the United States. It has “absolute, non-neogtiable power to ignore laws, keep people out of prison, ignore judges and prosecutors, make any jury trial come out the way they want, and make our government honest”.* My goal is to inform 1,000,000 citizens about their rights and obligations as jurors. You can help me achieve this goal.

My name is Alexander Navarro; I am a Boy Scout with Troop 13, in Queensbury, New York. I am currently working on my Eagle Project for the Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

A fundamental requirement of an Eagle Project is community service. JurorsRule will do this by educating people about their rights, duties, and powers as potential jurors. Such powers are not explained in the States’ Jurors’ Handbook, and are rarely explained by a judge during court. (See What Judges Don’t Tell Juries)

Another requirement of an Eagle Project is to get others to participate by delegating various activities to them. This is where you come in, and you can help with my project in two ways:
1) Answer the Juror Questionnaire and read the ABCs to Juror Rights.
It will take about 5 minutes to complete both. This part will help improve the justice system of America by making potential jurors more informed of their duties before they sit on a jury.

2) Send this site to as many friends, family, and American citizens as you know.