Wednesday, September 16, 2015
I have just learned that Federal District Court Judge Mark Bennett (N.D. Iowa) has posted on SSRN his fascinating article on the jury system which is forthcoming in the Arizona State Law Journal. This wonderful piece provides a unique perspective on the jury system, with a particular emphasis on the jurors themselves. This issue is important not only to labor and employment cases, but to all areas of the law. The abstract is below, and I highly recommend taking a look at this article if you have the chance:
Juries are deeply enshrined by the U.S. Constitution and firmly embedded in our system of justice. Thus, it is surprising that jurors do not yet have something akin to their own widely adopted bill of rights. Regrettably, this is the result of too many trial judges failing to practice WWJW — “what would jurors want” — a jury centered approach to judging. The state of Arizona, with its launch in 1993 of the Arizona Jury Project, is the pioneering jurisdiction of a more jury-centered approach. If trial judges embraced WWJW it would engender greater respect for jurors and lead to trial innovations which would significantly enhance the juror experience. These innovations would also increase the fairness of jury trials. Adopting a bill of rights for jurors improves jurors’ positive experiences and feelings about trial by jury as they participate in the purest form of democracy in action. This article proposes five bill of rights that have been proven to achieve these goals. If adopted by courts and practiced by trial judges, jurors across the nation will exit courthouses as our greatest community ambassadors for the Sixth and Seventh Amendment rights to trial by jury. This is an important step to ensuring that vanishing civil jury trials are not, going, going, gone!
-- Joe Seiner