Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2002

Abstract

According to the pollsters, public confidence in the Czech justice system is very low. 65% of Czechs do not trust their judges. Certainly, there is a connection between this mistrust and the fact that approximately 40% of the CR's 2500 current judges have been on the bench since before 1989. To an outsider, it seems surprising that the post-communist governments did not make changes to a system that had been controlled by the Communist party. The institution of trial by jury may be one way to promote public confidence in the Czech justice system.

The purpose of this article is not to claim the superiority of the American criminal justice system, but merely to suggest that there is at least one aspect of the American criminal justice system worthy of emulation: a guarantee that every person facing loss of liberty or loss of property enjoy the right to trial by a jury of ordinary citizens. The right to a jury of one's peers serves several important functions in a free society. These functions are crucial to a legitimate public sense of confidence in the system of justice.

There were, and are, good reasons for a democracy to provide its people with the right to trial by jury. In the Czech Republic, if for no other reason than to bolster public confidence in the judiciary, trial by jury makes sense. I suggest that now is the time to consider re-institution of this fundamental right.