DSM: RE: clarifying JC

Joseph Moore (joseph@ivorycc.com)
Tue, 9 Jan 2001 08:02:14 -0800

Maybe I'm way off-base here (I'm just a parent and have sat in on JC only
once) but I don't think of JC as some dispenser of profound justice so much
as being a fair and accessible means of resolving the frictions that result
from people trying to live together. Not that this goal is, ultimately, any
different than what a public court aims to achieve - it's just that JC has a
context (democratically run school) that allows for more straight-forward
means of resolving disputes.

I mean, you don't usually have a defense attorney, prosecutor or a bunch of
witnesses present in traffic court - the type of problem being disputed
(say, a speeding ticket) just doesn't warrant that level of procedure. BUT
you do have the right to appeal the traffic court's decision, and have
recourse to juries and such, IF you think the situation warrants it.

Such is JC - the vast bulk of disputes are, objectively, not as serious even
as a traffic violation. What's important is that they get resolved promptly
in a manner the school and the people involved can live with - and this is a
high and honorable goal. BUT, again, there's always appeal to SM, in which
the whole community backstops the decisions of JC. This seems a very good
and noble set-up, to me. Not perfect, perhaps, but very good.


-----Original Message-----
From: bsmith@coin.org [mailto:bsmith@coin.org]
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2001 5:30 PM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Subject: DSM: clarifying JC

It is baffling, and frustrating, to see people continuing to make
inaccurate assertions about JC. Let me attempt, as someone who has served
on JC an average of twice a week for 3.5 years at three different schools
(in addition to being JC clerk for six weeks), to clarify:

<<Having an active defense that has interest in the individual being charged
appears to me to be much more efficient than ,"so and so said he saw so and
so do this and that.">>

Hearsay is not considered as evidence in JC, as it isn't in government

> The only defense the defendant has is his/her word, which is
> either believed
> or not, whether it be the truth or not.

Like hearsay, "innocent until proven guilty" and "reasonable doubt" are
legal standards we, following the outside legal system, adhere to in JC. JC
is, first, a fact-finding body. The voting members talk to as many
witnesses as they need, to build as complete and accurate a picture as
possible. When they believe the evidence isn't there, they do not charge.
And when cases go on from JC to trial, defendants have the opportunity for
legal counsel, to make their case before a different jury.


I would add to Joe's apt analogy of JC-as-grand-jury one qualifier: there
is no prosecutor. JC runs the show, operating according to strict
guidelines designed to uphold due process (including replacing JC members
for bias, which a voting member, complainant or alleged violator may
request). All the involved parties have the opportunity to speak their
mind. The complainant and alleged violator are on equal ground in this

> I guess I compare JC with our democratic judicial system. Probably not
> to do that. But, In the SM model, there is a defendant, a prosecution
and a
> jury. But, there is no active defense. The plaintiff brings in
> The defendant doesn't. I just think this is an important part of a
> system. That a a defendant has representation other than him/herself,
> sense to me.

I've debunked this depiction in a previous post.

>From several posts I have read, there is much yet to be discussed about how
JC actually works. Please, can we all refrain from assuming the accuracy of
our or someone else's opinion of JC, and instead argue specific *facts*
from actual *experience*?


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