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Author Topic: Jury duty  (Read 9585 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 01, 2007, 01:44:09 PM »

As an Orthodox Christian I don't feel compelled to judge anyone. Our legal system in America requires us to serve as jurors. I have two questions.

1. Does our Orthodoxy come into question if we send someone to jail?

2. What kind of excuses work best to become disqualified?  Grin
 
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2007, 01:57:48 PM »

2. What kind of excuses work best to become disqualified?  Grin

That you're so utterly biased against one side on principle that you'll never be able to fairly consider the facts.
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2007, 02:26:48 PM »

I'm sorry, but trying to come up with excuses to get out of jury duty sounds alot like lying to me.

You're not judging the immortal soul of anyone, you're weighing facts in a case to see if a person is actually guilty of a crime.  To my knowledge, the Church has never spoken out against a legitimate authority's right to adjudicate a civil matter.  In the Great Experiment known as the United States, the jury system is a legitimate authority, for good or ill.  To shirk that duty flies in the face of St. Paul's exhortations to Titus that we are to "to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work" (3:1).  Being a part of a jury does not mean we will be speaking evil of a man (3:2), but rather we may in actuality be preventing ill of happening to an innocent man.

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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2007, 02:27:46 PM »

Depends on the nature of the case, or court, I would think. My (Orthodox) brother-in-law chose appointment to a General District Court bench in VA rather than the higher paid Circuit Court appointment offered him. Reason: he did not want to preside over a capital murder case.
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2007, 02:38:28 PM »

What is this thing about not judging people? We don't judge someone's status vis a vis God and we don't make light of others' sins, but St Paul tell us to admonish public sinners. I don't see the problem with serving on a jury therefore, and would argue it is our duty based on Christ's injunction to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2007, 02:46:04 PM »

Would Christ send someone to jail? Theosis is becoming the image of Christ. What makes this any different?
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2007, 02:52:24 PM »

What is this thing about not judging people? We don't judge someone's status vis a vis God and we don't make light of others' sins, but St Paul tell us to admonish public sinners. I don't see the problem with serving on a jury therefore, and would argue it is our duty based on Christ's injunction to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
Great point.  I'd have no problem with sending someone to jail or fining them for their crimes.  I would probably want to talk with my priest, though, if I were asked to send someone to their death.

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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2007, 02:53:07 PM »

Would Christ send someone to jail? Theosis is becoming the image of Christ. What makes this any different?
I'm not sure I understand your question, brother.
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2007, 02:55:56 PM »

Veniamin gave you the answer.

If you claim that you are predisposed to certain conclusions, you'll talk yourself off a jury, but initially it will just send you back into the pool.  You usually have to get dismissed from 2 or 3 pools before you get to go home.
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2007, 03:02:41 PM »

Would Christ send someone to jail? Theosis is becoming the image of Christ. What makes this any different?
Yes, if they deserved it.  Christ sends people to hell if they deserve it; he cast out the person in the parable who didn't wear the wedding garment.  Christ isn't Someone who never punishes people; that is a modernist notion.  Christ loves us, and by loving us He must also be just.
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2007, 03:03:34 PM »

I am always honest about my beliefs and how I stand on Orthodox issues like Capitol punishment when I am being  asked questions .  In Texas, if they are seeking the death penalty, I have never been chosen, however if the death penalty is not at issue (and yes about 80% of murder, manslaughter, or wrongful deaths cases  have the death penalty bargained out  of the case early , even in Texas) I have been chosen for the jury. The only automatic exemptions here are mental  instability, a sole cregiver for minor children, or a conviction of anything greater than a traffic ticket (Class two and three misdemeanors ---no hot checks etc). I always enjoyed my time on the jury.

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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2007, 03:28:40 PM »

In Texas, if they are seeking the death penalty, I have never been chosen, however if the death penalty is not at issue (and yes about 80% of murder, manslaughter, or wrongful deaths cases  have the death penalty bargained out  of the case early , even in Texas) I have been chosen for the jury.

Not quite.  In those 80% you're talking about, the case isn't eligible for the death penalty as a matter of law.  Only capital murders may receive the death penalty and there are pretty stringent guidelines for what constitutes capital murder (murder of a peace officer, child under five, etc.).  Just wanted to clear up the specifics on that.
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2007, 03:41:51 PM »

The only automatic exemptions here are mental  instability, a sole cregiver for minor children, or a conviction of anything greater than a traffic ticket (Class two and three misdemeanors ---no hot checks etc).

Also, automatic exemption if you are a doctor or a clergyman. That's pretty standard in every state. I'm pretty sure Orthodox clergy in Texas are exempt.
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2007, 03:54:58 PM »

Yes, if they deserved it.  Christ sends people to hell if they deserve it; he cast out the person in the parable who didn't wear the wedding garment.  Christ isn't Someone who never punishes people; that is a modernist notion.  Christ loves us, and by loving us He must also be just.

Doesn't everybody deserve it?
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2007, 04:51:45 PM »

Doesn't everybody deserve it?

Well not really, otherwise there wouldn't be saints Smiley.  Christ finds some worthy, and accepts them into Eternal Salvation, while others, He casts out into darkness. 
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2007, 04:59:10 PM »

Would Christ send someone to jail? Theosis is becoming the image of Christ. What makes this any different?

Our holy priests are charged with the task of giving us penances when we fail in our duty to be like Christ.

Citizens of this country, when called to serve on a jury, are charged with the task of giving penances when a fellow citizen fails in his duty to follow the law of the land.

As Anastasios pointed out, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's...



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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2007, 05:13:41 PM »

If you do end up on a jury, remember that there is an often overlooked aspect where our faith can inform our decisions.  American juries have the power of jury nullification:  that is, even if the person is guilty according to the law, you still have the right to vote to acquit (for instance, if you think the law is unjust, or the potential punishment disproportionate, etc).  A good resource for any prospective juror on issues like this is:  http://www.fija.org

But, if you really don't feel capable of judging in a criminal setting, there's nothing wrong with telling the court that at the outset.
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2007, 05:29:55 PM »

It appears Demetrios you are posting from Greece.  I know nothing about the Greek civil or criminal system.  Does anything particular about your service on a jury in that country bother you or that might be different from the legal system in any other country?
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2007, 09:06:09 PM »

I live in NYC. Originally from Greece. I'll try the crazy card first. That shouldn't be to hard. laugh
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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2007, 08:12:04 AM »

I live in NYC. Originally from Greece. I'll try the crazy card first. That shouldn't be to hard. laugh

Let me guess... Greek in NYC = Astoria.

Astoria = Queens County.

Queens County = Supreme Court Queens County - 88-11 Sutphin Blvd.
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« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2007, 08:34:06 AM »

Demetrios,
Pray, talk to your Spiritual Father or Mother, and then do as your conscience dictates. You are the one who will have to live with yourself and will go to your deathbed facing the consequences of every decision you ever made, so make every decision with your deathbed in mind.
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2007, 08:58:14 AM »

I live in NYC. Originally from Greece. I'll try the crazy card first. That shouldn't be to hard. laugh

If you try crazy, don't forget to mumble and keep asking what day it is.

An ex cop friend of mine used to tell the lawyers picking a criminal jury panel he was on that by the time the accused was arrested, had a criminal investigation, been reviewed by the DA, sent to the Grand Jury and made it to trial, the guy had to be guilty.  He never got picked.

I've worked on a lot of civil trials, federal and state, and the people who always get struck (at least by the Plaintiff's counsel) are the ones who act too religious.  Make sure you take a 300 knot prayer rope, wear a big cross, and preface all your voir dire answers with "God told me..."    
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2007, 12:16:47 PM »

I've worked on a lot of civil trials, federal and state, and the people who always get struck (at least by the Plaintiff's counsel) are the ones who act too religious.  Make sure you take a 300 knot prayer rope, wear a big cross, and preface all your voir dire answers with "God told me..."  

I'd see right through that schtick!  Grin Grin Grin

I was alway partial to the guy asking other jurors for "spare change" as the best guy to knock out of the jury room.   Plaintiff or defendant, you had NO idea what he was thinking, so you couldn't take the chance.
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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2007, 02:19:32 PM »

Would Christ send someone to jail? Theosis is becoming the image of Christ. What makes this any different?

Yes. In fact, he will send the sinners to eternal hell on Judgment Day.
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2007, 02:36:49 PM »

Yes. In fact, he will send the sinners to eternal hell on Judgment Day.

GIC, help please.   Wink
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2007, 02:50:44 PM »

GIC, help please.   Wink

Not another universalism debate! lol
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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2007, 04:14:15 PM »

^^GiC is hunting right now, and won't be able to return for another week or so.
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« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2007, 06:08:35 PM »

^^GiC is hunting right now, and won't be able to return for another week or so.

Hunting what?  People?!
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« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2007, 08:01:14 PM »

I had a lot of trouble with the whole Christ "sends" us to hell thing! I thought that the position is something like God loves everyone equally (obvious) and our "position" in the after life is deemed on how able we were to receive and emulate that love?
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« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2007, 11:21:51 AM »

The responsibility of jurors in our common law system in the US is essentially to sort out what happened, to figure out what the true "facts" of the dispute are, when the different sides have different versions of the story (e.g., the government claims that a certain series of events occurred that resulted in crime X being committed by defendant D; defendant D contends that the series of events did not occur in the way that the government claims, or that other events occurred that should exculpate him).   This factfinding role is the case in either a criminal or a civil trial.

The judge makes all of the heavy legal decisions, and gives the jury detailed instructions telling the jurors what to do when they've make their determinations as to what the "facts" are.

Personally I do not have any moral objection in sorting out what version of the truth appears to be the actual truth of what happened.  The legal implications of these conclusions, as a juror, would be out of my hands; that's the judge's call (and it's why I'd have a much harder time being a judge). 

As an aside, every single person I've known who has ever served on a jury all the way through trial has said that they found the experience fascinating, even if the trial itself was over a mundane matter (e.g.,  insurance contract disputes, eminent domain matters, etc.)
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« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2007, 11:26:20 AM »



But, if you really don't feel capable of judging in a criminal setting, there's nothing wrong with telling the court that at the outset.

In my experience almost any judge would excuse you if you felt incapable of serving.  Every juror has to swear to apply the instructions given to them by the judge, and usually has to affirm that they will do so before the jury is even seated.  If you cannot affirm in good conscience that you will follow the judge's legal instructions, I would be astonished if the judge would keep you on the panel.

The lawyers themselves may strike you from the panel if you make it clear during voir dire that you do not feel like you could judge the facts of the particular dispute.
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« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2007, 12:33:30 PM »

Quote
The judge makes all of the heavy legal decisions, and gives the jury detailed instructions telling the jurors what to do when they've make their determinations as to what the "facts" are.

I know it would be easier to say that the real moral issues are "out of our hands" as jurors, but I don't know that we can do that. 

Since the founding of the country (and before), juries have exercised the right to acquit for any reason, regardless of the facts according to the law or the instructions of the judge.  I agree with those who say that this power is the purpose of trial by jury to begin with.  That is, as Justice Scalia has put it, to be a "circuitbreaker in the State’s machinery of justice".
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« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2007, 01:34:52 PM »

I had a lot of trouble with the whole Christ "sends" us to hell thing! I thought that the position is something like God loves everyone equally (obvious) and our "position" in the after life is deemed on how able we were to receive and emulate that love?

That is partly true but there is a tendency in modern Orthodoxy to downplay the juridical aspects of Christ's role. Yes, if we respond in love we will be saved, and yes, the fire of hell is our knowledge that we rejected Christ's love as it continues to pour on us. That doesn't make it any less painful!  Please have a look at the Vespers and Matins texts for the Sunday of the Last Judgment to see what I am talking about.
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« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2007, 04:57:39 PM »

If you are too lazy or you feel that you are too important to do such a trivial task as your civic duty (after all why should one reap the benefits of a society and be expected to contribute as well) just say so.  Don't pretend to invoke your religion as a pretense. 
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« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2007, 09:43:50 PM »

That is partly true but there is a tendency in modern Orthodoxy to downplay the juridical aspects of Christ's role. Yes, if we respond in love we will be saved, and yes, the fire of hell is our knowledge that we rejected Christ's love as it continues to pour on us. That doesn't make it any less painful!  Please have a look at the Vespers and Matins texts for the Sunday of the Last Judgment to see what I am talking about.

In my eye's the judgement was already made. Wink

 I was able to postpone jury duty for a while.  I have one more postponement until I decide what to do.
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« Reply #35 on: November 04, 2007, 11:10:30 AM »

Since the founding of the country (and before), juries have exercised the right to acquit for any reason, regardless of the facts according to the law or the instructions of the judge.  I agree with those who say that this power is the purpose of trial by jury to begin with.  That is, as Justice Scalia has put it, to be a "circuitbreaker in the State’s machinery of justice".

The right of Jury Nullification has long been established in the system of common law (especially in the United States and Scotland, Jefferson even envisioned Jury Nullification as the primary means by which the Constitution would be upheld in the face of an easily corruptable legal system), much to the horror of the established legal system. This is, in fact, the true significance of a Jury, it is the one reason that relatively uneducated and unexperienced (in matters of law) people chosen randomly from amongst ones peers make better arbitrators of justice than educated, skilled, and experienced judges; it is the right of the people to interpret law, and even more so the very concept of justice, in order to give deference to mercy over law (or tyranny, as the case may be). The fact that this right is often hid from jurors and the very presence of instructions from the Judge is overwhelming evidence of the inherent corruption in the system and the fact that the established legal system is more concerned with maintaining personal power than ensuring justice according to the well established principles of common law.

So, yes, a juror does have a moral obligation, an obligation to rule in accordance with conscience and not just formal legal instructions, they are arbitrators of justice as much as they are arbitrators law. There is also a moral responsibility to rule as one sees the facts from the case and not be pressured by ones peers, which betrays the great weakness in matters of common law: that one or two strong willed persons on a jury can (and generally will) push a verdict which will be blindly accepted by those more content to follow than speak their conscience (this problem could be reduced by making juries randomly selected without involving lawyers from either prosecution or defence to exclude jurors, but this would bring with it other problems).

There is no good reason to avoid jury duty unless you are of weak will and unable to uphold the principles you believe in the face of overwhelming opposition, in which case I would argue that it is immoral to be a juror as your weakness may lead to the unjust conviction of an innocent person and that is perhaps the only possible moral failing of a juror.
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« Reply #36 on: November 04, 2007, 11:13:24 AM »

Not another universalism debate! lol

Well, you did start it with your dogmatic claims of your pet soteriology. Wink

But fortunately for all involved I really don't have time for this debate right now. Grin

^^GiC is hunting right now, and won't be able to return for another week or so.

Yes, I am, but thank God for satellite internet, though I won't be on as regularly as I generally am.
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« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2007, 11:46:18 AM »

To those who have speculated that Christ would send people to prison if they so "derserved" it, that seems rather contrary to the NT depiction of Christ I know...You know, the one who spared the adulterous woman even though He knew she was guilty? The one who gave all the sinners he personally encountered a second chance? If Christ were to send one to prison, the only reason I can think of that would motivate Him to do so would be to give that guilty person the opportunity to repent; an opportunity he/she might not have otherwise.

I had to study a related issue in my final essay for my Law, Lawyers, and Justice course (a Legal Ethics course). The subject I chose for my final essay concerned a discussion on the relationship and interaction between my religious duties and the professional duties required of advocates (in my country). The example of Christ was fundamental to my conclusion that Christianity inclines advocates to take up the cause of guilty and/or unpopular and repugnant clients (which is something that is generally demanded by the so-called cab-rank rule).
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« Reply #38 on: November 05, 2007, 12:10:31 AM »

Yes, I am, but thank God for satellite internet, though I won't be on as regularly as I generally am.

I hope that you are at least hunting the old fashioned way that God intended:
http://www.boojumx.com/extras/eaglehunt.html
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« Reply #39 on: November 05, 2007, 12:54:05 AM »

To those who have speculated that Christ would send people to prison if they so "derserved" it, that seems rather contrary to the NT depiction of Christ I know...You know, the one who spared the adulterous woman even though He knew she was guilty? The one who gave all the sinners he personally encountered a second chance? If Christ were to send one to prison, the only reason I can think of that would motivate Him to do so would be to give that guilty person the opportunity to repent; an opportunity he/she might not have otherwise.

I had to study a related issue in my final essay for my Law, Lawyers, and Justice course (a Legal Ethics course). The subject I chose for my final essay concerned a discussion on the relationship and interaction between my religious duties and the professional duties required of advocates (in my country). The example of Christ was fundamental to my conclusion that Christianity inclines advocates to take up the cause of guilty and/or unpopular and repugnant clients (which is something that is generally demanded by the so-called cab-rank rule).
But did Jesus not also say of Capernaum that even Sodom would find Judgment Day more tolerable?  (Matthew 11:23-24)

I'm not criticizing your pov; rather, I'm presenting different words of Christ so that we don't confine ourselves to just one way of thinking about Him.  You make some valid points.
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« Reply #40 on: November 05, 2007, 01:36:04 AM »

Well, first of all, I do not think I am looking at this issue one-sidedly at all. Insofar as the specific hypothetical is concerned ("Would Jesus send someone to prison?") I have based my judgment on what is probably the only directly relevant episode in the Gospel accounts. In this episode, Jesus was confronted with a group seeking to met out the just punishment for a crime He knew this woman to have been guilty of. Although the prosecution's case was warranted in that the woman did indeed commit adultery, it was technically invalid. Instead of joining the prosecution, Christ acted as a skillful advocate and nullified the prosecution's case upon the basis of a technicality. He did not permit the adulterous woman to suffer the just consequences of her action, but rather gave her a second chance in the hope that His Mercy and Compassion, which came to her defence, would inspire her to change her ways.

The verse you bring up bears no such direct relevance, and requires quite a stretched interpretation to bring it bear any relevance at all.

First of all, it concerns the final judgment--the stage where second chances are no longer possible. No matter what crime one commits here on this earth, be it petty theft or rape, there will always be a second chance for that person to repent and be redeemed.

Secondly, it accounts for the final experience of those who have had multiple chances and who have consistently rejected such chances. The chance given to the people of Capernaum was in the form of the miracles performed amongst them, which they rejected. I think i'd be quite within reason to opine that had the adulterous woman continued in her adultery unrepentantly in spite of the Grace shown to her by Christ, that her experience in the end of days would also be less tolerable than that of Sodom.

Lastly, Christ is describing the experience of those in hell as being intolerable, but such a description does not address the question of whether such is experienced simply because it is "deserved." Surely, from the perspective of the righteous man, evil doers do indeed "deserve" to undergo such an intolerable experience, but I could hardly think it proper to ascribe that mode of thinking to God.
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« Reply #41 on: November 05, 2007, 08:27:05 AM »

But in uttering those words to the woman, Christ not only had the role of advocate, but was at the same time the Supreme Judge presiding over the whole proceeding; it was His own law that condemned the woman's actions to begin with, so it was His absolute right to absolve or enforce it as He saw fit for the woman's eternal benefit, as you stated. A humble man sitting in a simple jury today does not enjoy this elevated position, but is merely asked to look at factual evidence and make a sound judgement for the good of social order.

Just food for thought!

PS. mate we gotta grab a coffee & tasbeha someday, its been ages!
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« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2007, 08:43:00 AM »

I had to study a related issue in my final essay for my Law, Lawyers, and Justice course (a Legal Ethics course). The subject I chose for my final essay concerned a discussion on the relationship and interaction between my religious duties and the professional duties required of advocates (in my country). The example of Christ was fundamental to my conclusion that Christianity inclines advocates to take up the cause of guilty and/or unpopular and repugnant clients (which is something that is generally demanded by the so-called cab-rank rule).

That's an interesting way of looking at it, but somewhat related reasoning led me to the opposite conclusion.  I came to the conclusion that Christianity would indicate that I should protect the innocent.  To that end, criminal law is not about punishing the guilty, but about separating them from the innocent so that they cannot harm them.
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« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2007, 09:37:44 AM »

EA,

Brilliant stuff!  Couldn't agree more and I think the adultery example is spot on, especially in considering how Jesus differed from... say... Mohammed.  Adultery = death by stoning in Islam.

I think the greater message I get from EA is his explanation of how much Jesus loved man.  Indeed, Jesus died on the cross so that man might be saved. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/christcross.aspx

I can also appreciate what Veniamin is saying, only I think the innocent are already protected (not that they don't need worldly representation) but I think of the victim of crime almost like the young who get seriously ill. 
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« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2007, 11:13:39 AM »

Hey Meenas,

Although the original poster seems to have conceived of some relationship between the question of whether a Christian should serve on the jury and whether Christ would send someone to prison, I was responding to that latter inquiry in the absence of any conceived notion of such a relationship. In other words, I did not mean to imply that the moral of the Gospel story surrounding the adulterous woman is that Christians should thus, in their capacity as jurors, work towards relieving an accused from a guilty verdict. The relationship between defence counsel and the accused is obviously much different from the relationship between a juror and the accused. The unique qualities of that former relationship are rather pertinent to the potential to promote the repentant conversion of the accused.

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PS. mate we gotta grab a coffee & tasbeha someday, its been ages!

Definitely. It's been quite some time. I'll give you a ring after exams! In the meantime, it was good to hear from you.
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