We, the Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy

Jeffrey Abramson, Author
Jeffrey Abramson, Author Basic Books $25 (308p) ISBN 978-0-465-03698-1
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 978-0-465-09116-4
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-674-00430-6
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Abramson, a former prosecutor who teaches politics at Brandeis University, here offers an interesting complement to Stephen Adler's The Jury (Nonfiction Forecasts, July 11), with less-detailed case studies and proposals for reform but a deeper look at the jury's history and function in a democratic society. Concentrating on criminal cases, the author argues for a conception of the jury as a body that will ``transcend starting loyalties'' to a common justice, rather than as a representative body ``where jurors act as spokespersons for competing group interests.'' He describes how juries evolved from the local knowledge model to an emphasis on impartiality, how the notion of jury diversity moved from ``different walks of life'' to questions of race and sex, and how ``scientific jury selection'' fosters cynicism about the impartiality of juries. Among Abramson's recommendations aimed at fostering jury deliberation: abolish peremptory challenges that let lawyers remove jurors, and allow potential jurors who have been exposed to pretrial publicity (i.e., those who try to be informed) to be empaneled. (Nov.)
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