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Jury Trial Analysis

Jeffrey Stahlberger
September 8, 2014
Dr. Bobby Kemp

Jury Trial Analysis
In the United States the creation of the constitution protects our personal rights. Not
everyone knows what rights they have when charged with a crime. The creation of the Sixth
Amendment protects our right to a speedy trial, public trial, and an impartial jury. (Farlex, 2014)

Speedy Trial
One question that remained unanswered until 1966 was what constitutes a speedy
trial. The Supreme Court finally addressed the Sixth Amendments speedy trial provision in the
court case of United States v. Ewell. From this court case the Supreme Court identified three
distinct advantages of having a speedy trial. (1) It prevents excessive incarceration; (2) it
minimizes anxiety experienced by the accused as a result of a publicized accusation; and (3) it
prevents damage to the defendants case resulting from too much delay (Worrall, 2012, pg.410).
In 1972 the Court added to the previous reasoning, in the case of Barker v. Wingo, by examining
how an accused that cannot afford bail must remain in custody. In the case of Barker, Mr.
Barker could not afford bail and spent 10 months in the local jail during his trial. The Court
looked at the negative long term effects of prolonged exposure to time behind bars. The Court
stated: Lengthy exposure to these conditions has a destructive effect on human character and
makes the rehabilitation of the individual offender much more difficult (Worrall, 2012, pg.
410). In addition the loss of wages that Mr. Barker was forced to endure greatly affected his
financial status. Society and the government also benefit from a speedy trial, first being the
opportunity for a guilty verdict to be secured quickly. (Worrall, 2012) Secondly a speedy trial
reduces the time the accused has out on bail to possible commit other crimes. Lastly if a

defendant cannot afford bail a speedy trial reduces the amount of time the accused spend in jail,
which lowers the financial cost on the government. (Worrall, 2012).
Even though the Sixth Amendment guarantees a person the right to a speedy trial there
are some restrictions. The Accusation rule, created from United States v. Marion, holds that the
Sixth Amendments guarantee to a speedy trial attaches only after the person (or persons) has
been accused of a crime (Worrall, 2012, pg. 410-411). The Court further explained that the act
of being accused of a crime does not necessarily mean formal charges have to be filed. Being
arrested and held to answer on a criminal charge is enough for a person to be accused of a crime.
(Worrall, 2012)

Impartial Judge
The Sixth Amendment protects our right to a speedy trial and an impartial jury, but what
about an impartial judge? The Supreme Court has held that the due process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to trial by an impartial judge
(Worrall, 2012, pg. 415). This right applies in both a bench trial, where a judge decides the
accuseds fate, and in the standard jury trial. In the court case of Tumey v. Ohio (1927) the
Supreme Court first decided on the matter of an impartial judge. In the case of Tumey v. Ohio
the judge overseeing the trial was also the major. Since the judge was the major he was
receiving the fines and fees that he was levying against those convicted in his courtroom.
(Worrall, 2012) Because of these facts the Supreme Court ruled that due process is violated
when the judge has a direct, personal, substantial pecuniary interest in reaching a conclusion
against him in his case (Worrall, 2012, pg. 416). A similar case Ward v. Monroeville, in which
the judge was the mayor, though the money from the fines went to the towns budge, in which

the mayor had access to. In contrast, Dugan v. Ohio, the judge was the mayor, but it was ruled
that there was no violation because he was on the board for city commissions, meaning he had
access to the money, though did not have sole control of it. (Worrall, 2012). These decisions by
the Supreme Court have made a positive impact on the accused right to an impartial judge.
Impartial Jury
While deciding what makes a judge is impartial is fairly easy as shown above.
Determining what constitutes an impartial jury can be much harder. Federal courts have always
recognized the right to a jury trial; it was not until Duncan v. Louisiana (1968) that this right
extended to state courts. (Worrall, 2012) Furthermore the Supreme Court noted that the right to
a jury trial is an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against
the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge (Worrall, 2012, pg. 418). While the right to an
impartial judge applies to all cases the right to impartial jury does not. Not all court cases have
juries. The petty crime exception, created from Baldwin v. New York, says the right to a jury
does not apply to petty crimes. The court argued that the disadvantages, onerous though they
may be, of denying a jury trial for a petty crime are outweighed by the benefits that result from
speedy and inexpensive nonjury adjudication (Worrall, 2012, pg. 418). Lastly, from the case
Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas (1989), an impartial jury is not required for anything that
requires less than a 6 month sentence.
The saying knowledge is power really hits home when it comes to knowing your rights
when arrested. The U.S. government has laws in place to protect our personal rights from people
who would abuse them. Knowing your rights can greatly impact the outcome of your case. The
best way to protect your rights is to know if a violation is taking place and to fight for it to be


Farlex. (2014). Sixth Amendment. Retrieved from http://legal-
Worrall, J. (2012). Criminal Procedure From First Contact to Appeal (4th ed.). Upper Saddle,
NJ: Pearson.