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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars eloquent defense of the jury system, warts and all, May 30, 2005
This review is from: A Trial by Jury (Hardcover)
In a two hour film (e.g., "Twelve Angry Men"), an audience can't empathize with some crucial aspects of a jury trial: the tedium, the ridiculous density of certain jurors, the uncertainty and fear, the perilous duty.

Many attack the jury system as criminally stupid. Yet as D. Graham Burnett's acerbic judge noted, jury duty is the highest civilian duty an American may fulfill in a time of peace. (Many condemn the military for similar density--even those who love it dearly.)

Burnett's book casts the jury experience as a journey. He strives to explain why a jury might decide that a moral wrong was not necessarily a legal wrong proven with sufficient certainty so as to punish a human being. As he depicts the deliberations, the book stretches tediously - repeating arguments, just as an actual jury would. A more dramatic presentation would slice a quarter or more from the book; but then the reader would miss the real-world of a jury.

After reading Burnett's, book one may understand that though the system is messy, putting facts into the hands of real human beings makes sense in our democracy. Also helpful for exploring the "black box" of jury reasoning.
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3.1 out of 5 stars (46 customer reviews)
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