You already know that in Illinois you have a right to a jury trial. The Constitution of the State of Illinois states, “The right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.” Additionally, that means a group of citizens must reach a unanimous decision. But one of the difficulties for defense attorneys across the country is to acknowledge the practice of a jury tax.
A jury tax is not a payment made in the form of money. It is not a punishment imposed on the members of the jury. A jury tax is an unseemly, and unconstitutional, practice where a judge will sentence the accused more harshly, assuming a guilty verdict, simply because the accused chose to exercise her or his constitutional right to a trial by a jury.
Rarely will a judge admit to administering a jury tax, but if you are a lawyer, that old saying about “knowing your judge” is essential when providing the best advice you can to your client.
How can jury taxes be eliminated when judges won’t acknowledge the existence of such a thing?