Citizen Representation and the American Jury

Posted: 23 May 2006

See all articles by Ethan J. Leib

Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law

David L. Ponet

Columbia University

Date Written: May 23, 2006


Participatory and deliberative democrats are increasingly relying on groups of "lay" citizens to have a direct hand in policy formation and consultation. However, these theorists have not adequately addressed how these "citizen representatives" should be selected and how their activities can be truly deemed "representative". We find these lacunae unsurprising in light of continued confusion in the representation literature about the relationship between democracy and representation - and the continued lack of effort to bridge normative theories of political representation with sensitivity to real institutional practices of representation. Accordingly, we look at a particular institutional manifestation of democratic representation - the American jury system - and tease out a theory of "citizen representation" that highlights six central desiderata: deliberation, impartiality, cross-sectionality, civic responsibility, legitimacy, and indirect accountability. An analogy that proves rich upon examination, we find that the jury's implicit theory of citizen representation has much to recommend to proposals and practices of citizen representation in other institutional settings.

Keywords: representation, jury, jurors, deliberative democracy

Suggested Citation

Leib, Ethan J. and Ponet, David L., Citizen Representation and the American Jury (May 23, 2006). Available at SSRN:

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

David L. Ponet

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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