Sunday, August 14, 2016
The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Suja Thomas, University of Illinois College of Law, has recently published a compelling book that explores not only the decline of the jury system in the United States but also contains a chapter that takes a look at the role of juries worldwide. From the description:
Criminal, civil, and grand juries have disappeared from the American legal system. Over time, despite their significant presence in the Constitution, juries have been robbed of their power by the federal government and the states. For example, leveraging harsher criminal penalties, executive officials have forced criminal defendants into plea bargains, eliminating juries. Capping money damages, legislatures have stripped juries of their power to fix damages. Ordering summary judgment, judges dispose of civil cases without sending them to a jury. This is not what the Founders intended. Examining the Constitution's text and historical sources, the book explores how the jury's authority has been taken and how it can be restored to its rightful co-equal position as a "branch" of government. Discussing the value of the jury beyond the Constitution's requirements, the book also discusses the significance of juries world-wide and argues jury decision-making should be preferred over determinations by other governmental bodies.