The Bill of Rights: Part 5

borStill headlong into our rights provided to us by the government go on with the 7th and 8th amendments.

7th Amendment:

“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

This amendment is one that through history has gone by the wayside, and often pointed to to prove it’s outdated nature. As most people know, any trial brought up by the plaintiff (the victim, defendant, or the one issuing the appeal to the court that just action must be taken in response to the actions or situations brought on by an opposing party) costs a lot of money not just to get the case filed but also to hire an attorney and go through the process, and if you don’t win, it’s for nothing. When you see the value being set twenty dollars, you have to remember it’s twenty dollars in 1788, not 2016. Due to inflation over the years, it would be the equivalent of roughly $10,000, and if my math is incorrect, the premise is still valid. So no matter what, at that time, bottom-of-the-line cases would usually cost twenty dollars in that time, which was set as the bar for the minimum required cost for a case to have a chance to be seen. So cases today, from $10,000 and up will get the trial by jury, right to representation, etc. Fairly simple concept, when applied to the economic circumstance the nation faces today.

With the phrase “In common law”, the Founders simply meant in the civil courts, the lower, state level courts, and if the case calls for it, the lower appellate courts of the federal government, and in rare occasions, when dealing with constitutional principles, the Supreme Court.

8th Amendment:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Punishment should fit the crime. That is the message of this amendment. It’s the amendment that is always implicitly brought up when sentencing terms are being negotiated by the prosecution and the defense, or in severe cases, by the jury.

In the begins of civil trials, in the cases of but not limited to murder, manslaughter, sexual assault, the danger aspect of the person in question is used to decide whether they will remain in police custody and how much the bail is in correlation with the severity of the crime. Once the trial is over, and the jury has unanimously decided, the sentencing is complicit with the crime, in which case the death penalty may be warranted.

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