The judge vs. a jury trial is a crucial decision to be made by the defendant after a consultation is made with his or her lawyers. According to Bergman and Bergman (2011), the defense lawyers have greater access than the accused to have background information about judges, their character and attitudes, and the technical issues surrounding the case. However, it is expected that the defendant is well abreast about the mood of the community toward the police and the type of crime that was committed by the defendant to which he is charged in order to assess the emotional appeal of the case when it comes to jury trail (Bergman and Bergman, 2011, p.446).
However, there are criminal law experts who believe that jury trial is more beneficial for the defendant since some judges apply an unwritten and biased jury trial penalty policy, which gives harsher penalty sentences to defendants who shall choose jury trial, instead of a judge trial. To illustrate, in the event that a defendant shall choose a judge or bench trial and such person shall be convicted, he or she can expect at least 2 years in jail. In the case that the defendant shall choose a jury trial, he or she may expect added time and expenses which will be paid in their sentences (Bergman and Bergman, 2011). Therefore, it is vital for the defendant to weigh the consequences and risks of jury and judge trial before making a decision.
It will appear that the jury trial is more advantageous as in the case of In the case of Apodaca Vs. Oregon, where the Supreme Court ruled that right of the accused to a jury trial does not necessarily require that 12 out of 12 unanimous votes in order to render a guilty verdict for the charges against him. The primordial consideration of a trial by jury is to prevent the government from exercising oppression through the state prosecutor and judge. The Court emphasized further that the most important function of the jury is to provide “common sense judgment of a group of laymen” and shall have the opportunity to deliberate freely, without force and intimidation from outside sources as they decide on the question of a defendant’s guilt. The advantage of eliminating unanimity of 12 votes will minimize the potential for hung juries caused by bribery or juror’s irrationality and caprices, resulting in lesser number of retrials, save on court expenses and decongest the court’s dockets. In addition, there is no need for unanimous verdict since at present time, the convicted felon is no longer subjected to cruel and unusual punishment compared to historic times.
According to Robertson, Wallace and Stuckey (2007), to hold anything less than a unanimous verdict by a jury of only six persons is considered as a threat to the constitutional guarantee of a trial by an impartial jury. Therefore, one of the disadvantages of choosing a jury may result to 6-votes from the jury members where such situation places the accused in an unfair trial to his prejudice.
Apodaca Vs. Oregon 406 U.S. 404 
Bergman, P. and Bergman, S. (2011). The Criminal Law Handbook. USA: NOLO.
Roberson, C., Wallace, H., and Stuckey, G. B. (2007). Procedures in the Justice System. Eighth
Edition, USA: Prentice Hall, p. 364.