- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (December 17, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814729037
- ISBN-13: 978-0814729038
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,596,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Constitutional Action Paperback – December 17, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
"As attorneys we learned the constitutional basis for jury trails in law school. Those of us who work in litigation know and understand the importance of juries to our court system, but probably few of us have considered the importance of jury duty to us as citizens. Now a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, Ferguson wrote Why Jury Duty Matters, for those called to serve as jurors. It is an explanation of the importance of jury duty to us as citizens, how it enables us to participate in democratic government." -The Daily Journal
"Serving on a jury is at the heart of what it means to be American....And juries are the embodiment of democracy--12 citizens each have a vote, with the results deciding a citizen's fate."-Andrew Guthrie Ferguson,Bottom Line-Personal
"Every year thousands of American citizens are summoned for the important civic duty of serving on a jury. What is their role, why is it a duty, and why is it so important? This unique and highly readable book is addressed to a lay audience. It will be useful for those citizens who have served on juries, for those who will someday be called to serve, and, indeed, for anyone who has an inquisitive mind about a crucial part of our legal system. Author Andrew Guthrie Ferguson lucidly describes the history of the jury and explains why juries play such a critical role in the contemporary American system of justice. Copies should be placed in the jury assembly rooms of every courthouse. The book can also be a useful supplement for high school civics courses."-Neil Vidmar,Russell M. Robinson II Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
"In any event, kudos to Andrew for his important work and great example in making legal scholarship more relevant."-Prawf's Blawg
"An investigation and celebration of what we so often rue: jury duty.
Former public defender Ferguson (Law/Univ. of the District of Columbia) takes jury duty seriously but not in an admonitory, finger-wagging sense. He wants readers to appreciate the brilliance of the jury process as civic engagement, an act of public virtue, due process and accountability. Ferguson witnesses the process daily, and he serves it forth here to readers with enthusiasm: “I watch as constitutional ideals such as civic participation, deliberation, fairness, equality, liberty, accountability, freedom of conscience, and the common good come alive through the practice of ordinary citizens.” In each chapter, the author takes a constitutionally grounded principal and shows how it applies to jury duty. Jury participation teaches the skills required for democratic self-governance, it acquaints jurors with the rule of law and it promotes the equality of ideas. Ferguson is an artful booster for community involvement and social connection and an advocate for the ability to challenge any perceived infringement of rights; a copy of the Constitution is always ready at his hand. This is a book that makes you feel good about a system that requires this type of participation, in which we must reflect with clarity on the guilt or innocence of an individual.
A genuine encouragement that speaks to the role juries play in our constitutional structure."
"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."-LA Daily Journal
"[A]n insightful and beautifully written account of jury service that speaks to the prospective juror in all of us, while at the same time offering lessons in the history and constitutional significance of the jury that will be enlightening for lawyers and lay readers alike...Ferguson provides an inspiration primer for jury service. Beyond his deep insight into every aspect of juror's service, [his] overriding optimism and palpable reverence for the jury as an institution are powerful enough to make even the most skeptical reader view their next jury summons in an entirely new light."- The Champion
"Professor Andrew Guthrie Ferguson's Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Action should be read by every adult in this nation and by every youth before reaching 18 years of age, not only for its historical content, but for its message that jury service by every eligible person is critical to protecting the life and liberty of every person living in the United States and protects the individual from the tyranny of government." -Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr.,Criminal Justice
[I]f citizenship matters for jury duty eligibility we need to ask ourselves why it matters. It's not an easy question to resolve, but like jury service, it is a job that only 'we the people' can do."-Andrew Guthrie Ferguson,The Atlantic
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The book is mainly a guide to educate Americans on why they should take jury duty seriously and its importance in the judiciary. He lays out several arguments in favor of the jury trial. For example, he notes that judges and lawyers often become used to the courtroom and the day-to-day realities of the job, but for each and every trial, the jury is unique. Each jury can take on a fresh look at the case when rendering a verdict. The main purpose of juries is to form a check on state power by giving average citizens the ultimate power to give a judgment in a trial. The book notes that jurors usually work hard to come to a fair conclusion and how multiple personalities offer different viewpoints on the same subject.
The author notes that historically the jury system was subject to issues. Especially in southern states, African Americans were often denied the right to serve on juries and, conversely, all-white juries would sometimes unfairly convict innocent blacks of crimes. Women were often denied the right to serve on juries as well for some time. The author notes that even today the jury system, like any other human institution, is not perfect and sometimes comes up with disagreeable results. Nevertheless, he offers much praise for the institution and how it offers average Americans a role to play in government.
I found this book to be an interesting overview of the importance of jury service. This is a good book for Americans to read to remind them of its importance and hopefully foster a greater respect for those that serve on juries.
I was a law student at the school where Professor Ferguson teaches, and had him as a professor twice.
As mentioned above, I had Professor Ferguson as a professor. I say now what I said in my class surveys: he should teach everyone.
Professor Ferguson's common sense approach in explaining complex issues is second to none. Imagine watching the news, and actually getting a unbiased opinion, this is what you will get from "Why Jury Duty Matters." In his book a lot of his classroom lectures come through the lines. This isn't to say that I didn't appreciate hearing the words again, but rather, to underline the fact that this book should be purchased by anyone who has an interest in learning the reasons why jury duty (often overlooked) is so important.
As a reader, I would compare it to Paul Butlers "Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice" and/or Erwin Chemerinsky's "The Conservative Attack on the Constitution."
The only criticism that I have is that the book doesn't cover all the topics which Professor Ferguson has published on; the greater population would benefit from having a matter-of-fact-easy-to-understand publication on all of them.