The jury system lies at the heart of our democratic criminal justice system, but it has lost much of its moral authority in the popular legal culture. In this essay, I will consider two recent books on the jury that discuss why practitioners and the public both celebrate and condemn it. I will also examine how the jury functions as a policymaking body within the criminal justice system, and preview reforms that might respond to criticisms about the jury’s conformity to the rule of law. Despite condemnations of the system, polls show that past criminal jurors, lawyers, and judges report much higher levels of confidence in the jury than outsiders to the criminal justice system. Jeffrey Abramson’s book, We, the Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy, may explain why those who have served feel confident that the deliberative process in the jury room produces fair results. Stephen Adler’s scrutiny of seemingly indefensible verdicts in The Jury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom explains why those “outside” the jury system do not trust it.
Lisa Kern Griffin,
“The Image We See Is Our Own”: Defending the Jury’s Territory at the Heart of the Democratic Process,
75 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol75/iss2/7