From Alexis de Tocqueville to Justice Anthony Kennedy,
many writers on American law have posited that jury service plays an important role in increasing jurors’ civic engagement. Using an extensive dataset of jury and voting records from across the United States, Professor John Gastil et al. test this claim empirically. Their most remarkable contribution is the finding that service on a criminal jury significantly increases a juror’s likelihood of voting in subsequent elections. From there, the authors use survey data from thousands of jurors in King County, Washington to explore in detail the causal relationships between jurors’ individual jury experiences and their civic engagement. They paint a picture of serious and committed citizens whose service had a generally positive and long-lasting impact on their views of political society and their roles within it. Written in engaging prose without sacrificing analytical rigor, this book is a must-read for scholars and students of the American jury system, as well as anyone interested in the effect that citizen participation in government institutions has on the strength of a democratic society.
Thanks for the nice words, anonymous-law reviewer.