Four Models of Jury Democracy

39 Pages Posted: 22 May 2015 Last revised: 30 Sep 2015

Date Written: May 20, 2015


This article proposes a theory of “representative deliberation” to describe the democratic ideal that jurors seek to practice. Given its long history, the jury does not fit neatly into any one of the most familiar types of democracy, such as direct democracy, representative democracy, or deliberative democracy. However, the jury does hold together elements of all of these theories. In line with direct democracy, we select jurors from the people-at-large. In line with representative democracy, we seek to draw jurors from a representative cross-section of the community. In line with deliberative democracy, jurors talk as well as vote and seek to change one another’s minds. The resulting hybrid is what this article calls “representative deliberation.” The core idea is that deliberation works best on diverse panels where jurors from different backgrounds bring different views and life experiences to bear on the impartial consideration of the evidence. The article reviews empirical studies supporting the theory of representative deliberation and proposes changes in jury selection to remove obstacles to empaneling representative juries.

Keywords: jury, democracy, political theory, representation, deliberation

Suggested Citation

Abramson, Jeffrey, Four Models of Jury Democracy (May 20, 2015). Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 3, 2015, Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey Abramson (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX Texas 78712
United States

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