- Paperback: 262 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (June 30, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 131661803X
- ISBN-13: 978-1316618035
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries Paperback – June 30, 2016
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"I strongly recommend this book. Professor Thomas shares the importance of our jury system. It's a right that you never think you will need ... until you do."
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Shark Tank star
"I have a great deal of respect for the work of American jurors, who are often the unsung heroes in our justice system. Professor Thomas highlights a very real problem - as the number of jury trials declines in favor of ever more specialist judges and alternative procedures, justice may not always be best served."
David Boies, runner-up for Time magazine Person of the Year, lawyer in Bush v. Gore
"The Missing American Jury deserves attention from anyone concerned with the quality of civil and criminal justice in America today. Professor Thomas documents the decline in the use and power of criminal, civil, and grand juries and the adverse impact this has had on our processes of justice, and then presents a series of provocative proposals for restoring these juries to meaningful roles."
Wayne LaFave, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, author of Search and Seizure, cited by the US Supreme Court over 175 times
"Thought-provoking and exhaustive, Professor Thomas's book takes us to first premises - the core of the right to a jury trial and its undermining by the courts in decisions big and small. It is an important work, a must-read for lawyers, students, citizens, and most important, judges!"
Nancy Gertner, former federal judge, Senior Lecturer in Law, Harvard University
"The Missing American Jury offers a compelling portrait of the disturbing decline of the American jury, and what can be done to save this cherished democratic institution ... Professor Suja Thomas brilliantly integrates historic and legal sources along with empirical research to demonstrate the causes of the jury's decline. She then proposes a range of innovations designed to restore the jury's power, including informing judges about the reasoning behind jury verdicts and enlightening jurors about plea offers and sentencing ... Anyone who cares about the future of trial by jury should read this book."
Valerie P. Hans, Professor of Law, Cornell University, co-author of American Juries: The Verdict
"[T]he author makes the case that the jury has lost the fundamental role and power accorded to it by the Constitution and the English common law tradition. She deems this problematic because the erosion of the jury affords additional - and unconstitutional - power to the judiciary, legislature, and administrative agencies, thereby skewing the balance of powers ... Not only does this veer from the original intent of the country's founders, but it also subverts the American justice system because jury trials have become less frequent, permitting judges to co-opt power previously reserved for juries ... judges, legislators, and agencies have interests that may prejudice the outcomes of cases, while juries avert such biases because they are not swayed by money or elections. Verdict: this work is certain to enthrall legal scholars, particularly readers of Akhil Reed Amar's classics The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction and America's Constitution: A Biography."
The Library Journal
"More than any other modern scholar, Suja Thomas has made the case for restoring the jury to its original role as a critical institution for the preservation of liberty and democracy. The Missing American Jury makes a powerful case that the original meanings of Article III and the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments have been ignored and distorted. This important book is essential reading for constitutional lawyers and scholars of both civil and criminal procedure."
Lawrence B. Solum, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Georgetown University, editor of the Legal Theory Blog
"In recent years, Suja Thomas has provided a vitally important scholarly voice reminding us of the importance of the jury as part of our nation's adjudicatory structure. In this book, she makes her most important statement yet concerning the jury's centrality as part of the nation's government ... This is a thoughtful and provocative book and while some may disagree with its conclusions, no one will dispute the significance of its scholarly contribution."
Martin Redish, Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy, Northwestern University
"Suja Thomas's new book is a forceful effort to restore the jury to its rightful place in the apparatus of governance in the United States. She argues persuasively that the Supreme Court and a wide array of other forces and factors have unjustly marginalized the jury and have torpedoed its proper Constitutional functions. Her book is essential reading for legal historians and for all who are concerned by the diminished role of the jury in American society."
James Oldham, St Thomas More Professor of Law and Legal History, Georgetown University
'The Missing American Jury has an ambitious normative aim: restoration of the jury to its rightful place as adjudicator of criminal and civil disputes and counterweight against an overweening state. In building its 'bridge to the 18th century,' though, this volume fails to introduce enough empirical evidence to show that juries historically played those roles.' J. D. Marshall, CHOICE
Criminal, civil, and grand juries have disappeared. The book explores why juries have declined in power from their robust English origins, how the federal government and the states have taken the jury's authority and why the jury should be recognized as a co-equal, 'branch' of government.
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You wouldn’t realize it from watching courtroom dramas on TV or in the movies, but juries are utilized with decreasing frequency in the U.S. By 2013, only 3.6% of federal criminal cases were tried before a jury. On the civil side, in the same year federal juries heard less than one percent of cases.
There has been a similar downward trend in the use of juries in state courts. By 2002, in the most populous 22 states, juries heard only 1.3% of criminal cases and .6% of civil cases.
Thomas argues persuasively that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, which she calls the traditional constitutional actors, have usurped juries – the people – of their proper role as intended by the Constitution. For example, due to the increased prominence of plea bargaining, the executive and judicial branches – instead of a jury of one’s peers – charge, convict, and sentence defendants in criminal cases. Through “tort reform,” legislators cap damage awards in civil cases that, in the past, had been the province of juries. Increased use of procedural mechanisms, such as motions to dismiss and for summary judgement, reduce the cases where the plaintiff has his or her day in court before a jury.
Thomas argues that, unlike juries, traditional constitutional actors are less likely to be representative of the people. In addition, traditional constitutional actors have incentives that jurors do not, such as being perceived as “tough on crime” and not wanting to offend donors. As a result, cases that the Constitution intended to be decided by an impartial jury of one’s peers are instead determined by actors with biases who are often not representative of the litigants, in particular of defendants in criminal cases and of plaintiffs in civil cases against business interests. This state of affairs is not what the Constitution intended, and has the effect of favoring the interests of business, the wealthy, and the powerful over those of ordinary people.
The Missing American Jury is well written and provocative. It is a “must read” for people concerned about the American justice system, increased inequality of wealth and justice in the U.S., and the declining influence of ordinary people.