Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jury Duty

A summons for jury duty from my local county New Jersey Superior Court evoked thoughts like those of many others: serving will be time-consuming, inconvenient, and tiresome. What excuses work to get out of jury service? That instinct is understandable. With pay for jurors set at $5 for each day of service, no one wants to miss work and wait all day to sit on an actual jury. The law (N.J.S.A. 2B:20-14) imposes fines up to $500. Those who are barred from serving as jurors are non-citizens, ex-felons, illiterates, minors, and those whose disabilities would prevent them from serving. The New Jersey Orientation Video is in two parts here:

The privileges and benefits of performing jury duty are explained in The Jury and Democracy: How Jury Deliberation Promotes Civic Engagement and Political Participation by John Gastil et als. (Call JK1764 .J87 2010) available in the Brooklyn Law School Library main collection. Through a combination of narrative, quantitative analysis, and anecdotal illustrations, the authors argue that performing jury duty is not only necessary to the health of American democracy but also is civically and psychologically rejuvenating for citizens.

To help the legal professional better understand the process of jury selection, the BLS Library has two recent additions to its collection. The Law of Juries, 4th edition, by Nancy Gertner and Judith Mizner (Call # KF8972 .G47 2010) has chapters on Right to a jury trial -- Compositional challenges -- Law of voir dire -- Peremptory challenges -- Venue -- Jury nullification -- Dealing with jury conduct/misconduct -- Structure of the jury -- Issues arising from jury deliberations -- Jury and the media.

Jury Selection: The Law, Art and Science of Selecting a Jury, 3rd editon, by James Gobert and Walter Jordan (Call # KF8979 .J67 2009) has chapters titled Right to jury trial -- Characteristics and features of the jury -- Mock and shadow juries -- Investigation of the venire -- Challenges to the array -- Challenges for cause -- Peremptory challenges -- Juror questionnaires -- Voir dire in civil cases -- Voir dire in criminal cases -- Voir dire in capital cases -- Choosing the jury.

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