"Pancake Juries" Bow to Authority Figures
By John Taft Investigative Reporter
GRANTS PASS, Or -- "Youíre under arrest," a man with a gun and a badge calmly tells you. You protest, "Iím innocent," but the police read you your rights and ignore your protests. You are handcuffed and taken to jail. If the District Attorney in the name of the state thinks itís a winnable charge, he will give your case to the grand jury expecting an indictment. The old saying goes, "A DA can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich." Once the DA has the indictment from the grand jury, he has a license to prosecute. If youíre short of cash and donít have any friends, you will sit in jail waiting for your speedy trial, which could be months. You most likely will be offered a plea bargain at some point. Your chances of escaping unscathed mentally, emotionally, and financially, although you believe yourself innocent, are generally about an estimated 2-percent from a jury of your peers in Josephine County. This number varies around the country. At this point the reader may be wondering if the jury system in the United States really works, and if not why not. The fact is it works some of the time, but not enough to coincide with the founding fathersí vision of the jury system.
Dr. Stanley Milgramís Experiment
To begin our understanding why the jury system often malfunctions, we must take a journey back in time of just over 40-years. During the years of 1961 and 1962 Doctor Stanley Milgram, a brilliant psychologist with Yale University, created some revealing experiments exposing the dark side of human beings. Dr. Milgram wanted to obtain an insight as to why the Nazi war criminals who committed atrocities against humanity willingly participated in the deaths of millions of people. Often their excuse was, " I was just following orders and doing my job, sir." Were these men and women abjectly evil, following orders, or was there another reason? Dr. Milgram's experiments gave some insightful answers that help show why Hitler and other tyrants thoughtout recorded history have often had popular support of the population. The willingness of ordinary people to commit cruel acts against their fellow man exists today in all nations as it has in the past. Under the right conditions the Dr. Jekylls of today can easily become the cruel and repulsive Mr. Hydes of tomorrow. The following paragraphs explain how Dr. Milgram conducted his experiment.
A newspaper ad was run soliciting those willing to participate in a paid learning experiment. One person was selected to be a teacher and the other the learner. The learner was strapped into a chair to prevent his moving around when an electric shock jolted him. Then an electrode was attached to the learnerís wrist. The learner was given a list of paired words. Then he was required to repeat back the missing word of the pair from memory. The teacher used an impressive electrical device with lots of switches and warning labels. The device delivered shocks starting at 15 volts and continued in 15-volt increments up to 450 volts. Each time the learner missed a word, he received an electric shock. The scientist in the white gown encouraged the teacher to administer shocks at the higher levels for missed words when the teacher was reluctant to do so, and his presence was a stabilizing influence on the teacher. When the scientist wasnít in the room, the teacherís compliance with administering the shocks decreased.
At 75, 90, and a 105 volts the learner would groan with pain. At 120 volts the learner complained that the pain of the shocks was unbearable. When the teacher showed any reservation about administering the higher voltages for wrong answers, the scientist would explain that the shocks are not lethal and the learner will suffer no permanent damage from the shocks. As the teacher administers the voltage increases, the cries from the other room grow louder until at 330 volts there is silence. The scientist tells the teacher to interpret the silence as a wrong answer and continue. This goes on until the questions are completed or the machine shows the teacher has administered the maximum 450 volts shock to the learner. The experiment is now completed.
Unknown to the teacher, he was the subject of the experiment, not the learner. The learner received no shock but was coached to act the part of being shocked. The moans and cries of pain were fake. The electrical apparatus was bogus, but the teacher didnít know that. The teacher believed the shock generator was real, the learner was actually being shocked, and the cries of pain from the other room were real.
Pay No Attention to the Screams, Apply the Voltage
Dr. Stanley Milgramís experiment reached into the nebulous Twilight Zone of the human psyche. Why would an ordinary person be willing to cause what he believed to be pain and suffering to another human being? The moans, groans, yelling, and silence could leave no doubt in the teacherís mind that the learner was apparently in great pain. Interestingly, about 65 percent of those who participated in the experiment went all the way by administering what they believed to be a dangerous 450-volt shock. The scientist in the white gown was an integral part of this experiment who encouraged and manipulated the teacher to continue when he expressed reservations about doing so. Some teachers under great emotional stress showed nervous reactions in various ways such as uncontrolled laughing and apprehension. No matter, most of the teachers did continue with the experiment.
Americans Want to Please Authority
Milgram sums up the experiment in this paragraph. "The legal and philosophic aspect of obedience are of enormous import, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjectsí strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjectsí ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation." From, "The Perils of Obedience" (Milgram 1974)
Judges, Juries, and a Fair Trial
In our society the jury in our community has tremendous power over an individual. It can recommend the death sentence, find a man guilty of a crime, or find a man not guilty. The jury makes the finding and the judge does the sentencing. What makes a jury tick? Can it be manipulated? Can the jury be stacked to a certain viewpoint? What about juries that sentence innocent men to death before DNA comes along and voids the death sentence? The jurors made the decision to find the man guilty. Did they really want to find the man guilty, or were they under courtroom restraints put in place by a judge? By using Milgramís experiment and a few questions, perhaps some conclusions can be reached in this matter. If the jurors were to want to please an authority figure whom would it be? The answer appears to be an easy one. It would be the judge, the man in the symbolic black robe who sits on a raised platform to allow him to look down on the jury, prosecutor, defendant, and spectators. This is a power and authority position and the purpose is to intimidate. How much influence do you think the judge would have if he sat down in a pit, with the jury and defendant above him and looking down on him? The judge is the scientist authority figure in Milgramís experiment. The judge is like the shepherd that nurtures the flock of sheep. The sheep want to please and look to the shepherd for guidance. The jurors come and go at the judgeís bidding. The judge tells the juries when they can a have a break, have lunch, and can even sequester a jury for as long as it takes to come up with a verdict. When the judge wants to discuss an issue with the prosecutor or defense attorney, he will often dismiss the jurors. They get up and file out of the courtroom like so many sheep. Most important, the judge is able to gain control of juriesí personal opinions with the following two statements. "Will you bring in a guilty verdict even though you disagree with the law? The law in question may be a bad one. But, it is still being enforced., A juror who admits to disagreeing with the law will no longer sit on the jury. The jurors are also under oath to bring in a guilty verdict if the prosecutor proves his case beyond a reasonable doubt, even if they are dealing with a bad law. The juror can no longer vote his conscience, and the jury system fails to meet the founding fathersí expectations. We now have the so-called "12 pancake (stacked) jury" who are psychologically under the spell of an authority figure (Judge) whom the jurors subconsciously wish to please.
Whatís a Guy to Do
So what can the man who considers himself an innocent victim do to protect himself? If he has access to money, there is a lot he can do. The old idiom money buys justice is fact. If the defendant doesnít have money to hire a good attorney, investigator, and an expert witnesses as needed, he should consider the plea bargain usually offered. If he goes before a typical teacher pancake jury in Josephine County, Oregon, and the rest of the nation, the pancakes most likely will figuratively hang the learner defendant. That is generally the destiny of those charged. In April 2003, the prisons in the United States held over 2.1 million prisoners, which surpasses the number in Russian prisons. American juries have helped make the USA the number one prison country. A dubious title to hold.
Why Did One Man Go to Prison and the Other Go Home?
District Attorney Clay Johnson, in a cruel prosecution attempted to squeeze out six years of Steve Andrews life. Andrews, a man in his sixties, was accused of child abuse in Josephine County, he went before a jury of 12, and won. How did he do it? T.J. Burris, a man in his sixties, spent over $100,000 trying to stay out of prison for alleged child abuse in Josephine County. Many claim Burris never got a fair trial when Judge J. Loyd OíNeal presided over the case. Even local attorneys and this writer agree on the issue. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, the second pancake jury found him guilty, and heís been in prison for 5 of an 8-year sentence. The same type of charge was used on Andrews, but Andrews got to go home. Andrews went to the US Oregon Observer and hired a good investigative reporter. The investigatorís testimony, along with that of an excellent expert witness who was a child psychologist were crucial in stealing the jury away from the prosecution. An exceedingly talented attorney from Portland rounded out the winning team. Now, Andrews had three-authority figures representing him who were able to overshadow the prosecutor and the stateís expert witness. The trial reduced Steve Andrews to poverty and debt, but gave him his freedom. By not sending an innocent man to prison, the taxpayers were saved at least $180,000. There are a lot of jurors who become teachers (Milgramís experiment) who sit on juries willing to please authority figures, few have any compulsions against inflicting pain and suffering on the defendant (learner). If you donít have a good investigator, attorney, and an expert witness you could easily become part of the estimated 98 percent (or whatever the conviction rate is for your city) that are convicted and sent away for a long stay.
You can contact John Taft at firstname.lastname@example.org