Juries and the King case

You are to be commended for your defense of the jury system in the editorial "Trial by Jury," May 8. It is important to remember that although the jury system sometimes makes mistakes, it is so superior as a system to any alternative that it is well worth the occasional injustice. However, mixed with the editorial's laudable comments is an incomplete analysis of the verdict in the Rodney King case. The author comes too quickly to the conclusion that the composition of the jury was the deciding factor in the case. In fact, at least two other factors may have been much more important in the decision.

First, the prosecution seriously weakened its own case by several avoidable errors. The decision not to call Rodney King to the stand was only the most obvious of these errors.

Second, the testimony of "expert witnesses" was undoubtedly a major factor in the verdict. The fact that the defense was able to call "experts" to testify that, yes, brutally assaulting a suspect was a reasonable use of force clearly helped the defense raise the "reasonable doubt" that led to the acquittal of the officers.

Rather than merely tarring the jury, a good commentary on the King case would have raised all of these issues. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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