Juries on Trial
In recent years, a series of highly publicized criminal trials in which obviously guilty defendants were acquitted by juries (or convicted only of much lesser offenses than they had actually committed) has made the American jury a controversial institution. Civil juries have rendered some astonishing verdicts as well, ladling out billions in other people’s money with insouciance and attracting a drumbeat of criticism from the business community. Concern has also been expressed about the sheer cost and the protracted nature of jury trials and about the hardship to jurors of having to sit through lengthy trials, increasingly under the glare of the television camera.
The growing controversy over the jury, part of a growing dissatisfaction with the American way in law in general, makes timely the publication of two well-written and informative books, one by Jeffrey Abramson, a lawyer and political scientist, the other by Stephen J. Adler, a journalist.1
About the Author
Richard A. Posner is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago law school and a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.