Saturday, May 25, 2013
Steve Sheppard (University of Arkansas) has posted Jury, Liberty, and Decay on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The jury is an ancient institution for the protection of an individuals’ liberty against wrongful accusation or punishment by the state. There are functional reasons why a group of laypersons may perform this task, but it is not an absolute assurance of liberty and justice. Among the risks to juror independence are ever more powerful efforts to alter the culture from which jurors come to the legal institution. Even so, its role is considered essential for the protection of liberty in the U.S. criminal justice system. However, the role is in fact in decline as a variety of forms of action are diverted from jury review. This essay considers why such diversions have grown and finds part of the fault in the interests of litigants and officials. The role of the jury is changing, and perhaps only a crisis of liberty may save it.