Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The jury plays a vaunted and historic role in the American adversarial legal system. Ordinary men and women, drawn from all walks of life, are entrusted with the profound responsibility of determining the guilt or innocence of those accused of crimes. After trials during which the conflicting lawyers present their cases and the presiding judge spells out the applicable laws, it is a group of private citizens picked from the community who render a verdict. Despite its importance in the American legal system, most legal cases that might go before a jury are actually settled without a jury. Either the case is settled before a jury is seated, or it is settled at some point during the trial, ending the participation of the jury. In addition, the use of juries has been declining steadily in the United States since the 1960s. In federal courts in 2000, only 4.3 percent of ...