Why judges hate jury trials in courts used to be a mystery to me. Even though the Colorado and United States’ Constitutions guarantee criminal defendants jury trials in courts, judges hate them. After more than twenty years of working with judges, I understand the reasons why.
The First Reason
There are two main reasons: When a lawyer becomes a judge, they are idealistic and proud to be in this noble system of justice. Yet, over time, they grow frustrated with results beyond their control. After presiding over hundreds of jury trials in Denver, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas and Arapahoe County, they develop an opinion of what is “right”. While judges get to sentence people and tell lawyers what is right and wrong in DUI and Theft cases, they have no control over the issue of guilt or innocence when a jury is involved. Judges resent the loss of control and develop a “god” complex. This god complex likes to be in total control and likes to ensure that they have the final decision on all issues. The jury system denies this total control judges crave.
The Second Reason
The second reason? Docket control. A docket is that list of open cases a judge has. As society deteriorates from the consequences of our moral promiscuity, crime soars. This increase means that each judge is required to handle more cases. Adding many new cases a week, over time, creates an unmanageable docket. Judges are forced to cut corners if they don’t want to work 24/7, and jury trials are time hogs.
A judge can conduct a court trial, without a jury, in a third the time it takes to do a jury trial in Jefferson or Arapahoe County. There are many procedural steps a judge must ensure with a jury. Juries can’t hear certain evidence. Juries must constantly be instructed on the law. The list goes on forever. Juries simply take more time. In a world where judges don’t have time, they look for ways to cut corners and be more efficient – even at the expense of defendants. Judges can do this in every area except jury trials. These trials become time hogs and judges resent them.
The Downside and Upside
The downside of this trend is that if a defendant forces his case to a jury trial, the judge will hold it against that person at sentencing if they lose. An Internet Luring case, for example, which might have been guaranteed straight probation if part of a plea agreement, would likely get some jail, if not prison, after a jury trial finding of guilt. There is also a benefit to this judicial trend. Since judges hate jury trials, they are becoming more accepting of plea bargains. That is good for defendants.
If you anticipate the possibility of having a jury trial, be smart and increase your chance of success by exercising your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.