Under the federal constitution everyone charged with a crime where their liberty is at stake (possibility of jail or prison) is entitled to a lawyer and a jury trial. Class C misdemeanors (for example: speeding, public intoxication, disorderly conduct) are not included in this because the judge can only assess a fine. In Texas, someone charged with a class C misdemeanor does not have a right to a court-appointed attorney, but Texas does allow for jury trials on class C misdemeanors. More than half of the other states do not allow someone to request a jury trial for these minor offenses – any trial would be heard only by a judge.
The question this week: Should Texas get rid of jury trials for class C misdemeanors? Trials to the judge save time and money, but are citizens rights at stake? Is it worth your time as a citizen to sit as a juror on one of these cases just in case you might want to have a jury trial on a class C misdemeanor one day?
1. Your answer needs to be no less than 300 words and no more than 400 words.
2. Students then must post thoughtful replies to two other student’s posts asking questions or adding more thoughts to their material (100 word minimums).
Remember Inappropriate comments will cause students to lose credit for the assignment.
REPLY BACK TO OTHER RESPONSES BELOW (100 word minimums).
Prior to this assignment, I wasnâ€™t aware that Texas residents could request a jury trial for a class C misdemeanor case. I was under the impression that all misdemeanor cases were bench trials by default. While I recognize that a jury trial is more costly and time-consuming than a bench trial, I believe the increased potential cost of this option is a reasonable expense to ensure that all citizens feel as though their rights are protected. I could see the expense being an issue if a jury trial was the default option in class C cases, but as long as they continue to be an option that has to be requested, I think jury trials should remain available.
One thing I find interesting is that Texas doesnâ€™t guarantee a court-appointed attorney for those charged with a Class C Misdemeanor, even in cases where a jury trial is requested. I would think that requesting a jury trial when you arenâ€™t able to afford representation could likely backfire on the charged citizen. I wonder if a citizenâ€™s rights are better protected by being assigned a court-appointed attorney in all cases that involve a jury.
I know that the common conception about jury duty is that itâ€™s a waste of time, and most citizens dread getting a jury summons in the mail, but I have always wanted to serve on a jury. I think the action of serving on a jury is a worthwhile and critical aspect of maintaining our freedoms. If I ever needed a jury to make a decision about my future, I would hope the participants would be unbiased, engaged, and invested in finding out the truth of the situation.
Overall, Iâ€™m of the belief that the system as it stands seems to be working, and that our time would be better spent finding other, more pressing issues to take on than changing how class C misdemeanor cases are handled.
2) Deziree S
I believe Texas should keep jury trials for class c misdemeanors. I would rather my fate be in the hands of multiple jurors rather than one judge, when it could be a simple case. All kinds of different people, with different views and backgrounds sit on the jury and may see the crime differently from one another. I had the pleasure to be selected last year and sit on the jury, it wasnâ€™t for a misdemeanor case but family court. If you know your rights and the case is clean cut it wonâ€™t even go for more than a day or hours at that. I didnâ€™t think it was a waste of time because itâ€™s our duty as citizens to potentially get selected every four years and after you go and sit in the room, maybe answer some questions and more times than other not even get selected. After all that is said and done selected or not you donâ€™t have to do it again for another four years. Misdemeanor cases would be a lot easier to decide on rather than a murder trial in my opinion. If weâ€™re talking about a speeding ticket, the guns radar or red-light cameras are around to show actual proof of the crime. when it comes to public intoxication, most officers are wearing body cameras so itâ€™ll show the events taking place, or on the other hand most people will pull out a cell phone to record making evidence is clear for the jury. I donâ€™t believe citizenâ€™s rights are at stake, if you did the crime you do the time (or pay the fine).