Date of this Version
Court Review, Volume 52, Issue 3 (2016)
The use of a jury in legal proceedings can be traced as far back as the participatory democracies that emerged in Greece in the sixth century BC, although it was not until the signing of the Magna Carta that the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers emerged.1 In the United States, the Sixth and Seventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution expressly provide this right in both criminal and civil proceedings.2 Furthermore, these amendments provide individuals with the right to a trial before an impartial jury.3 This right intends to serve as a safeguard against unfair treatment during a trial, providing a system of checks and balances to pursue the goal that justice remains at the heart of the legal system. A jury is intended to serve as a cross-section of the community, as it is drawn from and purports to represent the collective community conscience and common sense when resolving disagreements.4 Despite this rich constitutional history and community context, many residents of the United States actively seek to avoid jury service when they are called, for reasons we discuss further below. Some individuals search the Internet for information about how to avoid participating in jury service. As trial judges are tasked with oversight that spans the entire process of impanelment through voir dire, this study sought to provide a contextual background to assist the judiciary in easily recognizing and assessing potential jury avoidance. In the current study, the investigators examined advice offered by popular websites about how reluctant jurors may attempt to be excused from jury service.