Our forefathers felt that in order to have JUSTICE, it is obvious that a JURY of "PEERS" must be people who actually know the defendant. How else would they be able to judge motive and intent?
"PEERS" of the defendant, like RIGHTS of the JURY have also been severely tarnished.
Originally, it meant people of:
"equals in station and rank," (Black's 1910),
"free-holders of a neighborhood," (Bouvier's 1886),
"A companion; a fellow; an associate." (Webster's 1828). *
* So then why is it the defendant rarely knows anyone on his JURY in our courts these days ?
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SIT ON A JURY ?
Patrick Henry, along with others, was deeply concerned as to who has a right to sit on a JURY. Listen to our forefathers wisdom on the subject of "PEERS."
"By the bill of rights of England, a subject has a right to a trial by his peers. What is meant by peers? Those who reside near him, his neighbors, and who are well acquainted with his character and situation in life."
(Elliot, The Debates in Several State Conventions on
the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 3:579)
Patrick Henry also knew that originally the JURY of PEERS was designed as a protection for Neighbors from outside governmental oppression. Henry states the following,
"Why do we love this trial by jury? Because it prevents that hand of oppression from cutting you off . . . This gives me comfort -- that, as long as I have existence, my neighbors will protect me."
---(Elliot, 3:545, 546)
Mr. Holmes, from Massachusetts, argued strenuously that for JUSTICE to prevail, the case must be heard in the vicinity where the fact was committed by a JURY of PEERS.
" . . . a jury of peers would, from their local situation, have an opportunity to form a judgement of the CHARACTER of the person charged with the crime, and also to judge of the CREDIBILITY of the witnesses."
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
"The people are masters of both Congress and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it!"
Mr. Wilson, signer of "The unanimous Declaration", who also later became a supreme Court Justice, stressed the importance of the JURORS knowing personally both the defendant and the witnesses.
"Where jurors can be acquainted with the characters of the parties and the witnesses -- where the whole cause can be brought within their knowledge and view -- I know no mode of investigation equal to that by a trial by jury: they hear every thing that is alleged; they not only hear the words, but they see and mark the features of the countenance; they can judge of weight due to such testimony; and moreover, it is a cheap and expeditious manner of distributing justice. There is another advantage annexed to the trial by jury; the jurors may indeed return a mistaken or ill-founded verdict' but their errors cannot be systematical."
Consider the next page carefully . . . Freedom for Penn