'Lessons' (cont'd)

December 13, 1991

One of the beneficial byproducts of the William Kennedy Smith rape trial which ended in acquittal this week was Judge Mary Lupo's demonstration of how justice can be dispensed efficiently and yet fairly. It was through her no-nonsense insistence on sticking to schedules and not wasting precious time that the trial was concluded in just 10 days time.

No doubt Florida's provision for six-member juries was one factor in the efficiency. This led not only to swifter selection of a jury but also to a diminished likelihood of mistrial through a hung jury. The larger the jury, the greater the likelihood that at least one will hold out, often irrationally, in a way so as to prevent the unanimous verdict required under our legal system in criminal cases. Moreover, having six members of a jury as opposed to the 12 which would have been required in Maryland relieves six citizens of the necessity to undergo disruption in their personal lives, for whatever length of time. It also costs the state less to house and feed six-member juries.

In addition, Judge Lupo made clear that once the trial began, everyone was expected to act with dispatch. Granted, there is a fine line between the "speedy trial" guaranteed by the Constitution and drumhead justice, but in our view Judge Lupo showed not just determination but cool professionalism as well.

In a time when the cost of justice and the delay in justice are widespread, Judge Lupo offered an example, for millions to see, of how the system can be improved swiftly by the diligent application of measured judicial discipline.

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