The United States is in a period of democratic decline. Waning commitment to principles of self-governance throughout the polity necessitates urgent action to revitalize the Republic. The civil jury offers an often-overlooked avenue for such democratic renewal. Welcoming laypeople into the courthouse and deputizing them as constitutional actors demonstrates a profound faith in representative governance and results in wide-reaching and pronounced sociopolitical and administrative benefits. The Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and similar state provisions protect the rights of litigants to jury trials in most circumstances. But these promises have been hollowed over time through legal, political, and practical challenges. The result is that civil juries play a more minor role in resolving civil disputes today than at any other point in American history. If the civil jury is to serve as a locus of democratic power and as an emboldening civic experience for those who serve, it too must be renewed. To this end, this Article offers six research-based recommendations, informed by the distinctive approach that jurors bring to decision-making as well as the sociopolitical benefits that undergird the institution. Adopting these strategies can help reintroduce democracy into the civil justice system, and in doing so, can help direct America back toward the nation’s democratic aspirations.
Jolly, Richard L.; Hans, Valerie P.; and Peck, Robert S.
"Democratic Renewal and the Civil Jury,"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 57:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol57/iss1/3