No-one should be under the illusion that the average jailhouse snitch is a “noble whistleblower”, only interested in seeing that justice is properly served. There is now a mountain of evidence that many informants lie under oath. In some cases, the motivation may be money, in many more it is the reduction of prison time or other favors; false testimony is often a last resort by a desperate inmate.
In a new editorial series, Justice IQ will attempt to overturn decades of the conventional wisdom surrounding the vaunted constitutional right to a trial in which one is judged by a jury of his peers. The assertion that the jury trial paradigm is inherently compromised is an extremely uncomfortable notion. After all, the jury trial is supposed to epitomize the values of impartiality and equality in the context of the justice system, and a healthy properly functioning criminal justice system is the cornerstone of every democracy.
Empirical evidence is completely absent from any discussion about juror psychology, and what little of it does exist is used more as tradecraft for lawyers seeking to manipulate trial verdicts than data for those interested in improving the fact-finding process itself.