Why Jury Duty Matters
A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Action
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: NYU Press
I owe a great debt to my family, Alissa, Cole, Mom and Dad, Anndrea, Michael, Ann, and Tom for reading and commenting on drafts of this book and giving me love, confidence, and the education to make my ideas a reality. ...
Foreword: The American Jury System: Democracy at Work
A jury verdict changed my life. It was 1972. I was in college at Stanford University and the trial was about a half hour away in San Jose. I was a part of a large group of African American students at Stanford University who had been organizing against the criminal prosecution of Angela Davis. ...
In a poorly lit hallway, on an uncomfortable bench, a young man sits wringing his hands. Around him hums the bustle of an urban courthouse. Uniformed police officers, slick-suited lawyers, and casually dressed witnesses go in and out of the courtroom doors. ...
1. An Invitation to Participation
You hold in your hand an invitation. Sure, it looks like an official jury summons, and it was probably not the invitation you were hoping to receive. Yet it is still an invitation—an invitation to participate in the American experiment of self-government. ...
2. Selecting Fairness
As you wait to see if you will be selected as a juror, look around the courtroom. Study the parties at the table. What does it say that every time two litigants appear for trial, we know one side will lose? Both sides walk into court knowing at the outset that one side will lose, yet they still show up. ...
3. Choosing Equality
Throughout your jury service, you are known by a number— a juror number. You respond to that number. There are no nicknames or familiarities on jury duty. In the same way there are no titles. Whether you are a soccer mom or a Senator (or both), you are simply a number to the jury system. ...
4. Connecting to the Common Good
Jury selection ends with a hushed series of whispers. Then the trial judge intones those fateful words: “For those of you sitting in the jury box, you will be the jurors in this case. For the rest of you, thank you for your service, you may return to the jury office and tell them you have been excused.” ...
5. Living Liberty
For most people, “liberty” is not synonymous with jury duty. Jurors feel like their own liberty—the freedom to live their lives—has been taken by judicial force. You are summoned to court. Day after day, you are told when to arrive, when to leave, and even when you can go to the bathroom. You sit in a particular numbered seat. ...
6. Deciding Through Deliberation
So, it is time to decide. The trial is over. The evidence is completed. You and your fellow jurors sit around a table. You have been asked to make the final decision in a case. You are about to begin the process of jury deliberations. You are about to practice the principle of deliberation. ...
7. Protecting a Dissenting Voice
In the Academy Award–nominated movie 12 Angry Men, a single juror convinces the other eleven to question their assumptions of guilt in what appears to be a simple case.1 The lone juror dissents to prolong a quick vote for guilt, and eventually creates enough questions to turn around the verdict. ...
8. Judging Accountability
You sit in judgment. Literally and figuratively you sit— twelve jurors judging a human being or human problem. While your seats may not be as elevated as the judge’s, your position is just as important. As you sit in that jury box, across from the defendant or plaintiff, you act as judge. ...
I look across at my young client still wringing his hands. He has barely moved from our uncomfortable bench for three days. The courthouse feels empty. A law clerk shuffling papers in the hallway interrupts the stifling silence. I touch my copy of the Constitution for good luck. ...
Text of the United States Constitution
About the Author
Andrew Guthrie Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Law at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, where he teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. ...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012
OCLC Number: 835768074
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