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Should People With Mental Disorders Be Excluded from Juries?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Nous, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    The diagnostic criteria for a variety of mental disorders include symptoms that involve impairment in the ability to make rational judgments. The most obvious of these would seem to be the delusions that are the most common symptom on which psychotic disorders are diagnosed. In DSM-IV, “delusion” is defined as: “A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.”

    Major depressive disorders and various anxiety disorders include symptoms indicating impairments in the ability to concentrate. Personality disorders entail behaviors that “deviate markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture,” as manifested first and foremost in “cognition” or “the ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people and events”.

    At least theoretically, impairment in the ability to reason correctly is not a desirable trait in a jury member. Of course, these days, depending on the case, lawyers are often more interested in choosing jury members who are susceptible to suggestion, are easily distracted and manipulated by irrelevancies, or who adhere to a particular political ideology.

    Nevertheless, should having a mental disorder be recognized as a valid for-cause reason for excluding a person from a jury? If not, why not?
     
  2. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva
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    It would depend entirely on what mental disorders were being considered. The numbers of people dealing with depression are astronomical and yet they are, more often than not, able to still contribute to society. I suppose the severity of the mental illness would also have to be taken into consideration.
     
    #2 YmirGF, Feb 13, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  3. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    The first problem I see is we would need to create a legal yes/no decision on who has a mental disorder. Many people have undiagnosed and borderline disorders and psychiatry is no exact science.

    I favor eliminating juries drawn randomly from the community and we go with professional trained jurists. I can see where this system is not perfect either, but I think it would be better.
     
  4. sun rise

    sun rise "Imagine a world where love is the way."
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    My answer in general is no. Too many so-called normal people are incapable of making rational judgements. No matter what our politics, just consider how people vote.

    Now if someone said that he would render judgement based on what the voices told him, that's way over the line.
     
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  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    We should certainly not exclude narcissistic pathological liars. As much as I despise the guy, even Trump has a right to a jury of his peers.
     
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  6. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    I think it depends on the type and degree of mental disorder. I am bipolar II and served on grand jury. I don’t believe the reason I flipped the script and voted to indict an 86 year old great grandmother for smoking a doob had anything to do with me being bipolar.

    :D
     
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  7. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Like all others it depends on the mental condition, also whether or not the person is on medication to mitigate any psychological distress.
     
  8. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Libertarian Capitalist
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    I say that some experimentation is needed.
    Simulate trials, & examine people's decisions & reasoning.
    This might shed useful light on the situation.
    Changes should be based upon cogent arguments & hard empirical data.
    The short answer: IDK
     
  9. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I'm not too familiar with current jury duty selection procedures. What are the policies here? Do they vary state by state, or district to district? Could they legally discriminate in jury duty selection based on private information that is federally protected (aka, health information)?
     
  10. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    In Colorado, you can be excused from jury duty if you can get a doctor's note testifying to your having a mental illness that might impair your judgement.
     
  11. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    I think it should depend on whether or not their disability impairs their judgement.
     
  12. Jesster

    Jesster Friendly skeptic
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    If it gets me out of jury duty, sure. :p
     
  13. Gerry

    Gerry Active Member

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    Yes.
    They should also be excluded from running for president of the United States.
     
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  14. David T

    David T Well-Known Member
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    That's why I always say the trees told me. Voices without a body are nutty.
     
  15. David T

    David T Well-Known Member
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    More severe of a requirement than being president. Interesting.
     
  16. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    I think the presidency should have mental competency requirement as well.
     
  17. sun rise

    sun rise "Imagine a world where love is the way."
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    Anyone who wants the power of the office should be automatically disqualified.
     
  18. Shad

    Shad Well-Known Member

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    My issues are regarding implementation of systems to vet those with the cited conditions. I am not sure if those are the type of objections you are interested in. Let me know if you are.
     
  19. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    Out of ignorance I assume too much. I should have clarified that the US Code and every state has a statute on juror qualifications specifying an exemption for persons who have “a physical or mental disability or infirmity”--the language commonly used. See: 28 U.S. Code § 1865 - Qualifications for jury service

    On the juror questionnaire that, when called as a potential juror, one fills out and swears that one's answers are true to the best of one's knowledge, there will be some question asked to that effect. Every jurisdiction allows a person to voluntarily declare that s/he is unable to render satisfactory jury service due to a mental disorder; most jurisdictions require a doctor's note or an affidavit.

    Some questionnaires pose more searching and specific questions, such as this one for federal court, which asks:

    Have you, any family members or any close friends ever undergone counseling, treatment or hospitalization for psychiatric, emotional, family, behavioral or substance abuse problems?

    Yes _____ No _____

    If yes, please give details:​

    Then it provides blank lines for one to give the details. If the answer is “yes,” and depending on the details, during the juror selection process, known as voir dire, lawyers for either side in the case, or the judge, will question the person further in order to reach some judgment about the person's mental state. Lawyers for one side may decide that the person is unfit to sit on the jury, and exclude the person “for cause”.

    My question is whether person answering “yes” to a question such as the above should be excluded automatically, due to the likelihood of some impairment in the ability to make rational judgments. After all, it's difficult or impossible for lawyers to determine during voir dire whether a person is able to make rational judgments generally or in all circumstances, and a diagnosis of and/or treatment for a mental disorder can only be assumed to indicate an increased likelihood of such impairment.
     
  20. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    Which mental disorders do you say should not be the basis of exclusion, and why? The ones I noted in the OP include symptoms that implicate impairment in the ability to make rational judgments in some way.

    By what method do you propose measuring "severity" as it relates to impairment in the ability to make rational judgments?

    The HAM-D is the most commonly used instrument for measuring "severity" of Major Depressive Disorders, and it doesn't ask a single question regarding the "diminished attention" criterion of MDD. It (and the disorder's diagnostic criteria) look like to me something from junior high school.
     
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