Pros and cons

In countries where jury trials are common, juries are often seen as an important check against state power. Other common assertions about the benefits of trial by jury is that it provides a means of interjecting community norms and values into judicial proceedings and that it legitimizes the law by providing opportunities for citizens to validate criminal statutes in their application to specific trials. Alexis de Tocqueville also claimed that jury trials educate citizens about self-government. Many also believe that a jury is likely to provide a more sympathetic hearing, or a fairer one, to a party who is not part of the government Ц or other establishment interest Ц than would representatives of the state. This last point may be disputed. For example, in highly emotional cases, such as child rape, the jury may be tempted to convict based on personal feelings rather than on conviction beyond reasonable doubt. In France, former attorney, then later minister of Justice Robert Badinter, remarked about jury trials in France that they were like "riding a ship into a storm," because they are much less predictable than bench trials. Another issue with jury trials is the potential for jurors to be swayed by prejudice, including racial considerations. An infamous case was the 1992 trial in the Rodney King case in California, in which white police officers were acquitted of excessive force in the violent beating of a black man by a jury consisting mostly of whites without any black jurors, with a video tape showing King continuing to try to get up despite the beating. There was racist questioning about the case and riots ensued. Contrary to the legal principle of "no double jeopardy," after the officers were acquitted, the government r named the crime and tried the officers a second time for the same event and got a conviction from a jury with black jurors. The positive belief about jury trials in the UK and the US contrasts with popular belief in many other nations, in which it is considered bizarre and risky for a person's fate to be put into the hands of untrained laymen. Consider Japan, for instance, which used to have optional jury trials for capital or other serious crimes between 1928 and 1943. The defendant could freely choose whether to have a jury or trial by judges, and the decisions of the jury were non-binding. During the Tojo-regime this was suspended, arguably stemming from the popular belief that any defendant who risks his fate on the opinions of untrained laymen is almost certainly guilty. Similarly, jury trials were abolished by the government of India in 1960 (this was followed by Pakistan soon afterwards) on the grounds they would be susceptible to media and public influence. One Pakistani Judge called a trial by jury "amateur justice". Malaysia abolished its jury system from 1 January 1995, citing inter alia the danger of jurors untrained in the legal profession delivering verdicts coloured by emotions or popular perception. One of the last trials-by-jury in Malaysia was the notorious Mona Fandey case in 1994. Jury trials in multi-cultural countries with a history of ethnic tensions may be problematic, and lead to juries being unduly biased and partial. This is one of the reasons why both India and Pakistan abolished jury trials soon after independence. Indeed, in these countries, a jury trial is seen as a failing of some foreign legal system rather than an advantage; this is despite the fact that both nations are common law countries.