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WSJ on jury service reforms

Yesterday's article by Nathan Koppel in the WSJ examined the trend in many states toward casting a wider and more representative net for jury service, by for example reducing the number of occupational exemptions. Although I've heard anecdotally from lawyers in a number of localities who felt defendants got a better shake after middle-class exemptions were narrowed, Koppel is not satisfied that there is any systematic showing of such an effect.

The most debatable assertion in the piece is that even if a representative group of potential panel members shows up, "little can be done to police the jury selection process" by which lawyers, judges and jurors themselves skew the actual picking. On the contrary, lots and lots can be done, as witness the very wide disparities between localities in the rules governing jury selection and the strictness with which judges police those rules, and the significant overhauls in jury selection that have taken place in recent years in places as disparate as England and New York City (in both cases much for the better, as I've heard).

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.