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The Jury as a Political Institution: An Internal Perspective


Robert P. Burns


Northwestern University - School of Law

February 15, 2013

William & Mary Law Review, Forthcoming
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 13-02

Abstract:     
Political institutions or practices are usually defined in contrast to legal or moral institutions or practices. All three terms have shifting meanings. I consider the ways in which the American jury trial can be considered a political institution in light of these possible contrasts. I describe the way in which Hannah Arendt, probably the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century (and a lover of such distinctions), changed her view of the contrast between the legal and the political, initially formed by consideration of law in the Third Reich, after her own experience as an American juror. I then review the ways in which the linguistic practices in which we actually engage at trial can be understood as political. Finally, I discuss two recent attempts to revitalize the American criminal jury as a political institution, those of the late William Stuntz and political scientist Albert Dzur.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: Jury, Trial, Political, Legal, Arendt

JEL Classification: K1, K4, K10, K14, K40

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Date posted: February 18, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Burns, Robert P., The Jury as a Political Institution: An Internal Perspective (February 15, 2013). William & Mary Law Review, Forthcoming; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 13-02. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2220351

Contact Information

Robert P. Burns (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6613 (Phone)
312-503-8977 (Fax)
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