Yesterday, the good folks at the Fully Informed Jury Association picked up our coverage of the Abingdon, VA case involving the potential seizure of ambulances from a non-profit rescue services corporation outside of normal criminal processes and despite a jury acquittal:
This conflict of interest is one of the reasons why independent juries are built into our justice system. Government officials stand to profit from rulings against defendants in many ways, from continuing to ensure an artificial “demand” for their employment to being rewarded financially through confiscation of property under the auspices of asset forfeiture. Standing to gain personally from favoring negative rulings against defendants is a clear conflict of interest which biases and corrupts the legal process.
The independent jury exists to help protect defendants from such bias and corruption. Independent jurors do not stand to profit from their service based on the outcome. They are paid very little, often barely enough to cover their parking and lunch on a day of service, and their compensation is the same regardless of which side prevails. Because their service lasts only the length of a case, recurring at most just a few times in their lives, jurors’ livelihoods do not depend on a steady flow of defendants through the court system or confiscation of their property.
The US Attorney’s pursuit of asset forfeiture- a process which takes place without impartial review by a jury -against defendants who have been found not guilty by an independent jury is an act that thwarts our system of justice and corrupts the process of law.