Trained jurors might improve trial decisionsRecent...

the Forum

May 04, 1992

Trained jurors might improve trial decisions

Recent controversies regarding the decisions made by juries have drawn considerable attention. They raise a critical concern as to whether jury trials are accomplishing what our constitution intended them to do.

As a lay person, I feel the jury process is unduly affected by the legal profession. Each side in a jury trial appears to be at least as much concerned about "winning the case" as they are about seeing that "justice" is carried out. A wise alternative might be to professionalize the jury system.

Being a juror should be a recognized occupation, with a prescribed period of training, perhaps up to a year in length. Such courses could be developed by competent judges and attorneys, and conducted under the auspices of the local community colleges.

Upon completion, each candidate would be tested for competency in the knowledge provided in the curriculum. Passing the course work and exit examination would result in the person becoming a licensed "jurist."

These professional jurists would become state or local government workers, and serve on a full-time basis. Forget the so-called "random selection" of citizens untrained to deal with the trade secrets of courtroom action. Fill the jury boxes with persons prepared for the sundry tactics that lawyers practice in the interest of "winning their case." Let's put the emphasis where it really belongs--on providing a greater measure of justice to the plaintiff and to society at large.

Angelo C. Gilli, Sr.

Pasadena

Just play ball

Say it ain't so. I admire Dan Rodricks as a journalist. I respect his musical ability. His Young Vic performance as Lord High Executioner in The Mikado remains my favorite. But organ music at Oriole Park? Intruding on every pause between pitches?

Organ music is about as necessary to real baseball as ketchup on steak, cellophane on lamp shades, the DH, Dan Quayle as vice-president, vanity tags on BMWs.

If Dan wants organ music at the game I'll gladly lend him "Skating Time" by Ken Griffin for his Walkman. As for us real baseball fans, a moment of silence, please!

Sue Walsh

Baltimore

Not even close

It will be historic when off-track betting is operating on a complete cycle in Maryland. But there's a caveat if thoroughbred racing and harness racing are to continue successfully: No OTB should be located near a racetrack.

Take a lesson from New York. There is one OTB site directly across the street from Belmont Park; two others are within 10 miles of the track. At Aqueduct an OTB site is only 15 blocks away -- walking distance. Does that make sense?

Lou DeFichy

Seaford, N.Y.

Death sentence

The bleeding hearts want the videotape of Robert Harris' execution to be released in order to show the barbarism of the gas chamber. They forget that this man murdered two boys. The judicial and parole procedures need to be overhauled. Psychopaths should not receive indefinite stays of execution at the expense of taxpayers.

Granted, most killers are mentally disturbed, poor and uneducated. However, they are still a serious menace to society. The safety of the public outweighs the coddling of criminals. The death penalty is not a deterrent to murder but it does reduce the number of repeat offenders.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Gone fishing

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources owes Maryland fishermen an explanation of why two-thirds of the stocked trout are placed in waters in Western Maryland even though the majority of the anglers reside in central and eastern Maryland.

Consider that the four western counties of Garrett, Allegheny, Washington and Frederick received 181,000 out of 280,250 trout stocked this year, or 64.5 percent, while central and eastern Maryland counties get only 99,250, or 35.5 percent of the total. This has been happening year after year. Who's calling the shots here?

Stuart E. Hobgen

Baltimore

Help alleviate the suffering

We were pleased to see the article "Trying to stop the suffering" (April 27). The article wonderfully described how Katrina Fisher, one of 30 volunteer lay therapists, works with families in need of counseling to help them prevent child abuse.

Zena Rudo, who is celebrating her 10th anniversary as founder and director of the center, deserves much praise for her professional approach and devotion to the families and volunteers in the program. Her untiring efforts were recognized when she was awarded the 1991 National Association of Social Workers' social worker of the year award for the state of Maryland.

Many more volunteers are needed because of the increasing number of families requiring counseling. Our hope is that the article will encourage people to reach out and help the many children and families in dire need.

It is our responsibility as caring, concerned individuals to assure the safety and welfare of all children. We believe that the Child Abuse Prevention Center has and continues to work to improve the lives of families in our community.

Fern Friedel

Judy Hoffberger

Baltimore

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