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[dvd-discuss] Re: [OT] elcomsoft/sklyarov jury denied text of law?


------ Forwarded Message
 From: Steve Barber <sbarber@panix.com>
 Date: Sat, 14 Dec 2002 19:20:14 -0500
 To: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>
 Subject: Re: [IP] keep them ignorant -- ElcomSoft Jury Asks for Law Text -
 judge refuses

Dave --

I have some comments about the IP posting that questioned the denial
of the DMCA text to the Elcom jury.

I know it sounds disturbing on its face for the judge in the Elcom
case to refuse the jury the text of the statute. However, most if not
all judges would have done the same thing in any jury case -- not just
this judge and not just this case.

In jury trials in the US legal system, the jury's job is to find facts
and the judge's is to interpret the law. The judge interprets the law
relevant to the case, and transmits that interpretation to the jury in
the form of the judge's charge. The jury then takes the charge and
finds facts (by weighing the credibility of the evidence presented at
trial) according to the legal framework the charge provides.

For the jury to have access to the text of the statute is effectively
to bypass the judge's charge. The charge not only focuses the jury on
the parts of the statute relevant to the issues actually presented in
the case, but also often contains wording somewhat different from the
statute that incorporates controlling judicial precedent relevant to
and not present in the actual language of the statute.

If the charge is incorrect or incomplete, it is not the jury's job to
fix this problem. The remedy for a bad charge is for one of the trial
parties to appeal the charge to a higher court. If the jury has heard
the charge or deliberated before such an appeal is decided, a mistrial
is usually the result, and a new trial is usually granted.

-Steve Barber

------ End of Forwarded Message

Seth Finkelstein  Consulting Programmer  sethf@sethf.com  http://sethf.com
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