We the Jury: The Impact of Jurors on Our Basic Freedoms

Overview

Your worst nightmare: twelve jurors stand between you and a miscarriage of justice, and none of them have read this book. Few doubt that America's judicial system is one of the fairest, but we all agree it has problems. Sometimes it must enforce unjust laws, or administer laws in ways that seem inherently unfair. In criminal cases, each participant has his or her proper role: the government prosecutes, the lawyer for the accused defends, the judge referees, and the jury renders a decision. But few realize the ...
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Overview

Your worst nightmare: twelve jurors stand between you and a miscarriage of justice, and none of them have read this book. Few doubt that America's judicial system is one of the fairest, but we all agree it has problems. Sometimes it must enforce unjust laws, or administer laws in ways that seem inherently unfair. In criminal cases, each participant has his or her proper role: the government prosecutes, the lawyer for the accused defends, the judge referees, and the jury renders a decision. But few realize the extraordinary power juries have to take control of court proceedings gone wrong, to undo miscarriages of justice, and help preserve the liberties we hold so dear.

Judicial history student and veteran juror Godfrey D. Lehman has compiled 12 cases from England and the U.S. in which jurors have taken it upon themselves, as a matter of conscience, to nullify or overturn horrific laws that endangered our freedoms. This is a wake-up call and a must read for historians, lawyers, judges, and, of course, all prospective jurors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lehman, who has published articles on jurors' rights, is a firm believer in the ability of juries to render impartial verdicts based on their collective conscience. In this engrossing and well-researched study, he details 12 U.S. and English court cases to demonstrate the jury's power to preserve our basic liberties. For example, in 1735 a randomly chosen jury agreed with Alexander Hamilton's defense of journalist Peter Zenger against libel charges and affirmed freedom of the press. Minority rights were protected in 1925 when an all-white jury acquitted Ossian Sweet, an African American who had purchased a house in a white neighborhood, of conspiracy; and other jury verdicts advanced the cause of women's suffrage. Lehman shows that lawyers who pack juries with biased individuals are interfering with justice. He argues against the use of jury consultants and charges that requiring perspective jurors to complete lengthy questionnaires not only is an invasion of privacy but also may lead to tainted verdicts. (Aug.)
Booknews
Lehman, author of several articles on jurors' rights, details twelve U.S. and English court cases to demonstrate the jury's power to preserve basic liberties. He shows that lawyers who pack juries with biased individuals are interfering with justice and argues against the use of jury consultants, charging that requiring prospective jurors to complete lengthy questionnaires not only is an invasion of privacy but also may lead to tainted verdicts. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573921442
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Pages: 369
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Pt. 1 Juries Assert Their Power Over Royal Excesses
1 The Father of Our Country 35
2 "It Is My Royal Will and Pleasure...!" 73
3 What It Takes to Be a Good Czar 100
Pt. 2 The Jury Responds to Public Hysteria
4 Practitioners of the Detestable Arts 129
Pt. 3 Jurors Rally in Defense of Freedom of Speech
5 "The Greater the Truth, the Greater the Libel": The Trial of John Peter Zenger, August 4, 1735, New York City 151
6 Alien and Sedition Acts Trials, 1798 to 1800 175
Pt. 4 Juries as Early Abolitionists and Defenders of Minority Rights
7 Laws Do Not Make People Free, People Make Laws Free; or, Who Needs a Proclamation of Emancipation Anyway? 209
8 A Man's Home, a Man's Castle: The Trials of Dr. Ossian Sweet and Family, October and November 1925, and April and May 1926, Detroit, Michigan 224
Pt. 5 Juries Support Women's Suffrage
9 "I Have Decided She Was Not Protected in a Right to Vote!" 249
10 "She, Then and There, Was a Person of the Female Sex, Which She Well Knew!" 270
Pt. 6 In Search of an Impartial Jury
11 Murder in Haymarket Square, Chicago, 1886 and 1887 287
12 When Is a Jury Not a Jury? The Trials of the Sons of Victor Hugo, 1851, and Emile Zola, 1898, Paris, and a Commentary on His Service as a Juror by Andre Gide, 1913 315
Afterword: "They're Coming to Get You!" 339
Bibliography 355
Index 367
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