[Section 11]
That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other and ought to be held sacred.

from The Fifth Virginia Convention – Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) on Rap Genius


Section 11 asserts that it is preferable to settle property disputes via trial by jury, wherein a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge. This assertion directly opposes bench trials — the preferred legal process in England at the time — wherein a trial is held before a judge or panel of judges without a jury.

In essence, Section 11 is a buffer against despotism due the inherent ability of a trial by jury to serve as a check against state power.

Pictured below is an example of a despot:

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