SEC Issues Proposals for Modernizing Reporting and Disclosure Functions by Investment Companies and Advisors

The right to a jury trial is not only ingrained in the U.S. Constitution as a fundamental right, it goes back more than 10 centuries to the Magna Carta, the document on which our Constitution is based. Even 1,000 years ago, people recognized the benefit of being judged by their peers rather than by one omnipotent ruler.

The primary reason that a jury trial is usually a better option than a bench trial — where a judge determines guilt or innocence — is that judges have someone else to answer to (the electorate or the government) and juries do not. The only time you may want to favor a bench trial is if your defense attorney knows the judge well and believes he or she is very fair.

In addition, many judges are former prosecutors where juries are made up of people from the general population, many of whom may be just like you and may have an easier time empathizing with your story. Or, the judge may be friends with the prosecutor, which tends to happen in smaller districts where they may be just one judge and one prosecutor.

With a jury trial, your defense attorney has the opportunity to use emotional arguments to help mitigate the circumstances of your case and make a better argument for you. Judges have heard just about every argument there has been made, so is probably less likely to be moved by your personal story.

The bottom line is that your right to a trial by jury has been hard fought and hard won, and should never be surrendered unless your circumstances are very unusual.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or