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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 118434 Find in a Library
Title: American Judicial System: Should It, Does It, and Can It Provide an Impartial Jury to Criminal Defendants?
Journal: Criminal Justice Journal  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(Fall-Winter 1988)  Pages:89-124
Author(s): M H Levin
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 36
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article analyzes whether the American judicial system provides the criminal defendant with the "impartial jury" the U.S. Constitution guarantees; and if it does not, whether this failure can be justified on the basis of economics, efficiency, or other grounds.
Abstract: After an overview of the American jury system, the article discusses the disadvantages and the advantages of the American Jury system. The judicial systems of China, England, Germany, and Russia are then described and compared to the American jury system. The article concludes that American courts typically fail to provide criminal defendants with an impartial jury largely because juries do not represent a cross-section of the community. This is because many courts rely on voter registration lists to select prospective jurors, but registered voters nationwide constitute only approximately 60 percent of the population. Also, in most States certain occupational groups have the automatic right not to serve on a jury. The peremptory challenges courts provide each attorney encourage attorneys to select jurors biased toward each attorney's arguments in the case. Impartial juries would be more likely if prospective jurors were selected from the combined lists of voters, public-utility users, driver's licenses, telephone directories, and tax rolls. A 12-person jury should be guaranteed, and a nonunanimous verdict should be allowed (not less than a 10-2 vote). Finally, the courts should forbid peremptory challenges in jury selection. 215 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Right to trial by jury
Index Term(s): China; England; Foreign courts; Germany; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
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