The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries

Cambridge Univ. May 2016. 232p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781107055650. $99; pap. ISBN 9781316618035. $34.95. LAW
Thomas (law, Univ. of Illinois Coll. of Law) has authored numerous law review articles on subjects including civil procedure, summary judgment, originalism, and, of course, juries. Her scholarly interests coalesce in this polemical text arguing for the rehabilitation and restoration of the American jury. Repeatedly, the author makes the case that the jury has lost the fundamental role and power accorded 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 in a manner violating the Seventh Amendment, inter alia. 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 coopt power previously reserved for juries. Thomas argues that judges, legislators, and agencies have interests that may prejudice 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.
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