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Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Actionby Andrew Guthrie Ferguson
Synopses & Reviews
Its easy to forget how important the jury really is to America. The right to be a juror is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all eligible citizens. The right to trial by jury helped spark the American Revolution, was quickly adopted at the Constitutional Convention, and is the only right that appears in both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But for most of us, a jury summons is an unwelcome inconvenience. Who has time for jury duty? We have things to do.
In Why Jury Duty Matters, Andrew Guthrie Ferguson reminds us that whether we like it or not, we are all constitutional actors. Jury duty provides an opportunity to reflect on that constitutional responsibility. Combining American history, constitutional law, and personal experience, the book engages citizens in the deeper meaning of jury service. Interweaving constitutional principles into the actual jury experience, this book is a handbook for those Americans who want to enrich the jury experience. It seeks to reconnect ordinary citizens to the constitutional character of a nation by focusing on the important, and largely ignored, democratic lessons of the jury.
Jury duty is a shared American tradition. It connects people across class and race, creates habits of focus and purpose, and teaches values of participation, equality, and deliberation. We know that juries are important for courts, but we dont know that jury service is important for democracy. This book inspires us to re-examine the jury experience and act on the constitutional principles that guide our country before, during, and after jury service.
"Jury duty is a phrase sure to elicit eye rolls and groans from those summoned to service. Still, it remains one of our most important roles to fulfill as citizens and a right that people have valued since the middle ages. Ferguson, a veteran lawyer and law professor, outlines the importance of the jury in the legal system, how the right to trial by jury helped push the American Revolution forward, and how civil rights advances that created a more balanced jury pool have resulted in fairer trials for all. The subject of jury duty is a dry one and while Ferguson does his best to elevate the topic, he can't make it a compelling one unless the reader is already actively interested in the jury portion of the legal process. While the book is definitely written for laypeople in terms of prose style, it requires an enthusiastic ear. Though this book will lose the attention of most readers, the dedicated and wonk-minded will learn a great deal about our legal system. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Andrew Guthrie Ferguson is Professor of Law at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia. He is co-author of Youth Justice in America.
Table of Contents
1 An Invitation to Participation
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History and Social Science » Law » Civil Liberties and Human Rights