The Utilization of Jurors in the American Judicial System




Clay, Sonja

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


This Leadership White Paper discusses the utilization of jurors in the American judicial system. After many sensational court trials over the last century and beyond, the question has arisen whether this is truly the best system to be utilized. While the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution affords a defendant the right to be tried by an impartial jury (U.S. Const. amend. VI, 1791), it does not stipulate the requirement of being tried by one's peers (“What is a Jury,” n.d.). Many spectacular cases and their outcomes are good indicators that this system might be flawed. Other areas of concern are the biases and mindsets of jurors, the incomprehension of legal aspects involving the case tried, the overall attitudes of potential jurors selected to serve on these panels, and the extensive media coverage surrounding some of these trials. Supporters of this system argue better fact-finding can take place by having a panel of jurors from all walks of life, therefore decreasing the impact of prejudice (Vidmar & Hans, 2007). Another point raised is jurors tend to be more sympathetic toward plaintiffs in civil cases. The danger in the latter, however, is higher amounts of damages are being awarded to plaintiffs in civil cases, causing a negative impact on the economy, even crippling it at times (“Litigation,” 2013). And even the fact-finding can be counterproductive if jurors tend to see themselves in the role of a representative of a certain group and argue and decide accordingly so that this group may benefit from it (Vidmar & Hans, 2007). Changes should be considered to the American court room proceedings and its jury system.



Criminal justice, Administration of -- United States, Jury