A key reason why today's juries tend to have 12 people is that the Welsh king Morgan of Gla-Morgan, who established jury trials in 725 A.D., decided upon the number, linking the judge and jury to Jesus and his Twelve Apostles. This set the precedent. (The Mathematics of Jury Size). Over time, Western courts tinkered with various numbers, but twelve became a standard number.
Fast forward to 1978. That year the US Supreme Court ruled that a five-person jury is not allowed (too few), after Georgia attempted to assign five-person juries to certain criminal trials. "What seems to be apparent reading the literature on this is that the Supreme Court is making these decisions basically on an intuitive basis," said Jeff Suzuki, a mathematician at Brooklyn College in New York. "It's their sense of how big a jury should be to ensure proper deliberation."
To ensure proper deliberation. Hmm, then why don't all small claims courts have juries?
In most states, small claims cases are decided exclusively by judges or magistrates. These are sometimes referred to as “bench trials,” because both parties “approach the bench” and make their arguments to the judge.
In 1792 the Bill of Rights established a right to a jury trial in civil cases. Specifically, the Seventh Amendment says: “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $20, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.” Theoretically, juries in civil trials provide an objective cross section of society to ensure fairness.
So why don't most small claims courts allow juries? Expedience, meaning it's much faster (it still takes months) to have a judge decide the case, regardless of the Supreme Court's reasoning that proper deliberation is necessary for a fair trial.
But if the Seventh Amendment guarantees trial by jury, shouldn't we demand a fair trial in all small claims cases with the outcome determined by a "cross section of society?" And wouldn't a much larger cross section be even more fair?
What if there was a new system that was much faster and far more fair?
Enter Crowdjustice, which combines speed (days instead of months) and a massive jury (thousands or millions).
The Internet has had a profound impact on our expectations for speed of services. For example, 20 years ago most people who wanted to rent a movie would drive to a nearby Blockbuster to select a VHS tape and return home to watch it. Nowadays instant on-demand services like Netflix have become the new norm for watching movies at home.
The Internet has also shifted the ability to solve problems from institutions to the masses, often resulting in better outcomes. This growing democratized approach to solving problems mirrors the collapse of central planning governments (e.g. the former Soviet Union) in favor of a free market democracy.
Now that we have the speed of the Internet and the ability to distribute problems to be solved through mass collaboration on the Internet, doesn't it make sense to apply these approaches to our system of justice?
Crowdjustice does that by creating an online marketplace to distribute small claims cases to those interested in applying their time and values toward voting on these cases.
Along with serving as a distribution point for small claims cases, the marketplace also serves as an aggregator of public opinion (i.e. jury votes) resulting in a final settlement based on a mathematical average of votes.
Interestingly, the more users of the marketplace, the more legitimate the final outcomes. This prediction is based on James Surowiecki's research on the The Wisdom of Crowds.
By combining these factors and logically projecting forward into the future, it is clear that we will all inevitably become a jury of millions.
Please help us by providing your opinions about the design and help test a new website being created for you to be able to settle small and micro claims cases decided by a jury of thousands. You can join the Crowdjustice Beta Society by entering your name and email address above this post. Become part of the future of justice!