Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries
Cambridge University Press 2016
Suja A. Thomas, a professor of law at the University of Illinois College of Law, has written The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries (Cambridge University Press, 2016)--a book comprising history, political science, and constitutional jurisprudence. Her topic is the history of the jury in American law and its decline over the last century and a half. Thomas argues that the jury should be considered a branch of the government, its own powers and authority under the Constitution. Her argument is premised upon the original understanding of the constitutional provisions regarding the jury's role in not only the judiciary, but the governance of the United States. She traces the gradual decline of the jury's power over the course of the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century. Today, judges perform many of the tasks that were originally in the province of the jury, often reducing the jury to an advisory body. Thomas contends that this state of affairs harms all actors in the American system: the traditional three branches of government, judges, juries, citizens, and parties to civil and criminal lawsuits. She urges reforms that will enhance juries power to not only decide cases, but to check the power of prosecutors and legislatures.
Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.