The jury system comes to Argentina

The jury system is blossoming in Argentina. An article from May’s Buenos Aires Herald gives one a sense for how juries are being used. In most respects, the system being adopted resembles that being used in the U.S. Consider, for instance, this bit about voir dire (jury selection):

Before each case, 48 potential jurors will be called and they will hold a meeting with the parties, including the judge, the prosecutor and the defence lawyers. They will be asked several questions to try to determine whether they are impartial or if they are directly or indirectly linked to the case. Then only twelve will be selected to sit on the jury. Members of the government and of security forces or those who work for prisons are forbidden from taking part. Lawyers and public notaries are also exempt, as is anyone convicted of an intentional crime or anyone indicted for a criminal offence. The exemptions also apply to religious and political leaders.

Note that the article has one goof; unanimity is required for juries in capital cases. That correction comes from Andres Harfuch, who has championed the jury system in Argentina.

Most of the first-hand accounts thus far are in Spanish. Reading GoogleTranslate versions thereof get the gist across, however. One area of law where juries have arrived concerns taxes. A recent article on special jury trials from the Ministerio Publico Fiscal suggested that jurors will need (again, translated) “A simpler language, greater use of images, another form of questioning, much attention in the instructions.” The bottom line is that the jury constitutes a new and legitimate form of public authority in Argentina. In the mangled translation, that comes out as “a certainty: what is resolved represents the will of the people.” Sounds almost like haiku.




About jgastil

John Gastil is Head and Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, where he specializes in political deliberation and group decision making.
This entry was posted in Juries around the world, Voir dire and jury selection. Bookmark the permalink.

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