Category Archives: Jury structure and reform

Mixed juries: The case of Italy

We’ve all seen the headlines about the acquittal of former University of Washington student Amanda Knox, who was in her second year of a 26-year sentence for a murder in Perugia, Italy. What may have escaped notice was that the … Continue reading

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The active juror – A plea for permitting juror questions

A new editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times makes a good case for letting jurors ask questions in civil trials. The piece points out that the practice often has no law forbidding it, it’s just not conventional practice. One of the … Continue reading

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Who’s to say whether a juror has bias? (part 2)

In the previous post, I ruminated on the fact that each juror gets scrutinized for bias, even after pledging their neutrality. Again, there are reasons for doing so, but the near-presumption of bias goes unquestioned. To see how far this … Continue reading

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Who’s to say whether a juror has bias? (Part 1)

The voir dire process that juries go through in the U.S. helps attorneys detect juror bias against their case. Attorneys often use “peremptory strikes” to remove jurors without having to state a reason (or “cause”), but sometimes the jurors don’t … Continue reading

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More happy news on the jury’s decline

A recent note about a June 2011 jury summit offered this thought: Numerous studies…have demonstrated that there is overwhelming support for the jury trial among Americans. And yet, there is an alarming downward trend occurring in the nation’s civil courts. … Continue reading

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The incredible shrinking jury

Over the last few decades, American courts have used fewer and fewer jurors. There are many causes, including increased plea-bargaining, alternative dispute resolution, and reduced jury sizes (down from 12 to as few as 6 jurors per trial). But the … Continue reading

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Juries, evidence, and questions…

One stereotype of juries is that they often make judgments based on their own speculations and amateur detective work–that they move far beyond the evidence in the trial to interject their own suppositions and biases. I fear that this comes, … Continue reading

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