"A definitive study of an extremely important, though curiously neglected, Supreme Court decision, Pierce v. Society of Sisters."
---Robert O'Neil, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Law
"A careful and captivating examination of a dramatic and instructive clash between nationalism and religious pluralism, and of the ancient but ongoing struggle for control over the education of children and the formation of citizens."
---Richard W. Garnett, Professor of Law and Associate Dean, Notre Dame Law School
"A well-written, well-researched blend of law, politics, and history."
---Joan DelFattore, Professor of English and Legal Studies, University of Delaware
In 1922, the people of Oregon passed legislation requiring all children to attend public schools. For the nativists and progressives who had campaigned for the Oregon School Bill, it marked the first victory in a national campaign to homogenize education---and ultimately the populace. Private schools, both secular and religious, vowed to challenge the law. The Catholic Church, the largest provider of private education in the country and the primary target of the Ku Klux Klan campaign, stepped forward to lead the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the court declared the Oregon School Bill unconstitutional and ruled that parents have the right to determine how their children should be educated. Since then, Pierce has provided a precedent in many cases pitting parents against the state.
Paula Abrams is Professor of Constitutional Law at Lewis & Clark Law School.
One of the preeminent authors of the early twentieth century, Susan Glaspell (1876–1948) produced fourteen ground-breaking plays, nine novels, and more than fifty short stories. Her work was popular and critically acclaimed during her lifetime, with her novels appearing on best-seller lists and her stories published in major magazines and in The Best American Short Stories. Many of her short works display her remarkable abilities as a humorist, satirizing cultural conventions and the narrowness of small-town life. And yet they also evoke serious questions—relevant as much today as during Glaspell’s lifetime—about society’s values and priorities and about the individual search for self-fulfillment. While the classic “A Jury of Her Peers” has been widely anthologized in the last several decades, the other stories Glaspell wrote between 1915 and 1925 have not been available since their original appearance. This new collection reprints “A Jury of Her Peers”—restoring its original ending—and brings to light eleven other outstanding stories, offering modern readers the chance to appreciate the full range of Glaspell’s literary skills.
Glaspell was part of a generation of midwestern writers and artists, including Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who migrated first to Chicago and then east to New York. Like these other writers, she retained a deep love for and a deep ambivalence about her native region. She parodied its provincialism and narrow-mindedness, but she also celebrated its pioneering and agricultural traditions and its unpretentious values. Witty, gently humorous, satiric, provocative, and moving, the stories in this timely collection run the gamut from acerbic to laugh-out-loud funny to thought-provoking. In addition, at least five of them provide background to and thematic comparisons with Glaspell’s innovative plays that will be useful to dramatic teachers, students, and producers.
With its thoughtful introduction by two widely published Glaspell scholars, Her America marks an important contribution to the ongoing critical and scholarly efforts to return Glaspell to her former preeminence as a major writer. The universality and relevance of her work to political and social issues that continue to preoccupy American discourse—free speech, ethics, civic justice, immigration, adoption, and gender—establish her as a direct descendant of the American tradition of short fiction derived from Hawthorne, Poe, and Twain.
More than two decades after serving as a juror on the high-profile seven-month murder trial People v. Erik Galen Menendez, Hazel Thornton updates her book Hung Jury with a new preface and a postscript essay of observations about the Menendez brothers’ second trial. Includes psychological commentary by Lawrence S. Wrightsman and Amy J. Posey, and legal commentary by Alan Scheflin.
Honorable Mention, 2017 Scribes Book Award, The American Society of Legal Writers
At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States was reeling from the effects of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Time-honored verities proved obsolete, and intellectuals in all fields sought ways to make sense of an increasingly unfamiliar reality. The legal system in particular began to buckle under the weight of its anachronism. In the midst of this crisis, John Henry Wigmore, dean of the Northwestern University School of Law, single-handedly modernized the jury trial with his 1904-5 Treatise onevidence, an encyclopedic work that dominated the conduct of trials. In so doing, he inspired generations of progressive jurists—among them Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Benjamin Cardozo, and Felix Frankfurter—to reshape American law to meet the demands of a new era. Yet Wigmore’s role as a prophet of modernity has slipped into obscurity. This book provides a radical reappraisal of his place in the birth of modern legal thought.
"What is most extraordinary about Ben Fleury-Steiner's book is that it seeks to shed light on the 'black box' of capital jury deliberations. Based on a remarkable social science survey of persons who served on capital juries, this volume illuminates the workings of the most closely guarded secret in the criminal justice system."
-David Cole, from the Foreword
"Perhaps the most powerful, routinely enacted civic ritual in American public life is that of capital punishment. This state-sanctioned extirpation of human life in the collective pursuit of justice is a searing act of civic pedagogy, made legitimate only by the deliberative endorsement of a small group of ordinary citizens-the jury. In Jurors' Stories of Death, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner has taken a cold, hard look at how these ordinary citizens come to terms with their extraordinary role, and how they rationalize their irreversible decisions. The result is a chilling portrait of how we---that is, all of us Americans---constitute ourselves as a political community."
-Glenn Loury, Director, Institute on Race and Social Division
"This illuminating and insightful examination of jury deliberations makes a terrific contribution to the study of capital punishment. Fleury-Steiner's synthesis of sociological, legal and theoretical concepts with vivid juror narratives and statistical data, thoughtfully animates and details how race and class consciousness continue to shape America's death penalty."
---Bryan Stevenson, Professor of Clinical Law, NYU School of Law, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama
Jurors' Stories of Death is more than just another book on the death penalty; it is the first systematic survey of how death penalty decisions are made.
Benjamin Fleury-Steiner draws on real-life accounts of white and black jurors in capital punishment trials to discuss the effect of race on the sentencing process. He finds that race is invariably a factor in sentencing, with jurors relying on accounts that deny the often marginalized defendants their individuality and complexity, while reinforcing the jurors' own identities as superior, moral, and law-abiding citizens-a system that punishes in the name of dominance. This biased story of "us versus them" continues to infuse political rhetoric on crime and punishment in the United States even today.
Jurors' Stories of Death concludes with an original argument for abolition of the death penalty: If America values multiculturalism and cultural diversity, it must do away with institutions such as state-sanctioned capital punishment in order to begin to free itself from the racism and classicism that so insidiously plague social relations today.
2013 Award of Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society.
In the antebellum Midwest, Americans looked to the law, and specifically to the jury, to navigate the uncertain terrain of a rapidly changing society. During this formative era of American law, the jury served as the most visible connector between law and society. Through an analysis of the composition of grand and trial juries and an examination of their courtroom experiences, Stacy Pratt McDermott demonstrates how central the law was for people who lived in Abraham Lincoln’s America.
McDermott focuses on the status of the jury as a democratic institution as well as on the status of those who served as jurors. According to the 1860 census, the juries in Springfield and Sangamon County, Illinois, comprised an ethnically and racially diverse population of settlers from northern and southern states, representing both urban and rural mid-nineteenth-century America. It was in these counties that Lincoln developed his law practice, handling more than 5,200 cases in a legal career that spanned nearly twenty-five years.
Drawing from a rich collection of legal records, docket books, county histories, and surviving newspapers, McDermott reveals the enormous power jurors wielded over the litigants and the character of their communities.
The Law of the Other is an account of the English doctrine of the "mixed jury". Constable's excavation of the historical, rhetorical, and theoretical foundations of modern law recasts our legal and sociological understandings of the American jury and our contemporary conceptions of law, citizenship, and truth.
The "mixed jury" doctrine allowed resident foreigners to have law suits against English natives tried before juries composed half of natives and half of aliens like themselves. As she traces the transformations in this doctrine from the Middle Ages to its abolition in 1870, Constable also reveals the emergence of a world where law rooted in actual practices and customs of communities is replaced by law determined by officials, where juries no longer strive to speak the truth but to ascertain the facts.
In this landmark book, Neil Vidmar looks beyond the common perceptions of medical malpractice litigation and finds a system that is fair, impartial, and intelligent. Firmly grounded in a wealth of empirical data, the author presents a fresh look at a civil jury system that has been maligned as out-of-touch, capricious, and disposed to awarding exorbitant, unjustified amounts to plaintiffs whenever they have the opportunity. In an era when tort reform is high on the congressional agenda, Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is almost alone in voicing reason and fact.
Written in a thoroughly inviting, jargon-free style, Medical Malpractice and the American Jury places those cases that go to trial in the broader context of litigation, noting that only about ten percent of malpractice cases ever result in trials. Of those that do go to trial, the author notes, more than two out of three cases are decided in the doctor's favor--repudiating the view that jurors are inherently biased against doctors and are motivated more by sympathy for the plaintiff than by the facts of the case.
Neil Vidmar comprehensively addresses all the claims that have been leveled against the performance of malpractice juries. For example, he compares actual jury decisions on negligence with neutral physicians' ratings of whether negligence occurred in the medical treatment and finds a remarkable consistency--repudiating the view that jurors are unable to understand experts or uncritically defer to their opinion.
"Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is quite simply the most compelling, comprehensive examination of the American jury system yet written. It brings reason and fact to the debate in a way that puts the lie to the many myths surrounding medical negligence cases. For anyone genuinely interested in just solutions, this book should be required reading. To act in ignorance of its findings invites disaster." --Trial
"For anyone really interested in the evidence about the daily grind of the courthouse mill, Neil Vidmar's Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is a good place to start." --Washington Post Book World
Neil Vidmar is Professor of Social Science and Law, Duke Law School, and Professor of Psychology, Duke University.
Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide
Cass R. Sunstein, Reid Hastie, John W. Payne, David A. Schkade, and W. Kip Viscu University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress KF1249.P86 2002 | Dewey Decimal 347.7377
Over the past two decades, the United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number and magnitude of punitive damages verdicts rendered by juries in civil trials. Probably the most extraordinary example is the July 2000 award of $144.8 billion in the Florida class action lawsuit brought against cigarette manufacturers. Or consider two recent verdicts against the auto manufacturer BMW in Alabama. In identical cases, argued in the same court before the same judge, one jury awarded $4 million in punitive damages, while the other awarded no punitive damages at all. In cases involving accidents, civil rights, and the environment, multimillion-dollar punitive awards have been a subject of intense controversy.
But how do juries actually make decisions about punitive damages? To find out, the authors-experts in psychology, economics, and the law-present the results of controlled experiments with more than 600 mock juries involving the responses of more than 8,000 jury-eligible citizens. Although juries tended to agree in their moral judgments about the defendant's conduct, they rendered erratic and unpredictable dollar awards. The experiments also showed that instead of moderating juror verdicts, the process of jury deliberation produced a striking "severity shift" toward ever-higher awards. Jurors also tended to ignore instructions from the judges; were influenced by whatever amount the plaintiff happened to request; showed "hindsight bias," believing that what happened should have been foreseen; and penalized corporations that had based their decisions on careful cost-benefit analyses. While judges made many of the same errors, they performed better in some areas, suggesting that judges (or other specialists) may be better equipped than juries to decide punitive damages.
Using a wealth of new experimental data, and offering a host of provocative findings, this book documents a wide range of systematic biases in jury behavior. It will be indispensable for anyone interested not only in punitive damages, but also jury behavior, psychology, and how people think about punishment.
Juries have been at the center of some of the most emotionally charged moments of political life. At the same time, their capacity for legitimate decision making has been under scrutiny, because of events like the acquittal of George Zimmerman by a Florida jury for the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the decisions of several grand juries not to indict police officers for the killing of unarmed black men. Meanwhile, the overall use of juries has also declined in recent years, with most cases settled or resolved by plea bargain.
With Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life, Sonali Chakravarti offers a full-throated defense of juries as a democratic institution. She argues that juries provide an important site for democratic action by citizens and that their use should be revived. The jury, Chakravarti argues, could be a forward-looking institution that nurtures the best democratic instincts of citizens, but this requires a change in civic education regarding the skills that should be cultivated in jurors before and through the process of a trial. Being a juror, perhaps counterintuitively, can guide citizens in how to be thoughtful rule-breakers by changing their relationship to their own perceptions and biases and by making options for collective action salient, but they must be better prepared and instructed along the way.
In Reconstructing Justice, Franklin Strier doesn't simply describe problems with the American trial system; he proposes reforms. Arguing that lawyers need to share more power with the judge and jury, Strier recommends ways we can retain and improve our basic adversarial system. He suggests we eliminate peremptory challenges, give judges the authority to ask questions of witnesses, and limit the number of expert witnesses. Drawing from a wide variety of sources, including case histories, scholarly works, Blackstone's Commentaries, and The Federalist Papers, he argues that judicial reform is not only possible, but—because of the increased public coverage of trials and understanding of the need for reform—inevitable.
Franklin Strier brings this critical look at trial reform up to date with a new preface in which he discusses how the inordinate amount of public attention of the O. J. Simpson trial, and the power the attorneys had over the court in that case, shed new light on the trial system's weaknesses and inequities.
"Anyone with an interest in courtroom trials will be fascinated by Strier's analysis of the game of law and suggestions for reforming the trail system to provide justice in a greater number of cases. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice
It was to all appearances an ordinary murder—many might have said that it was an open-and-shut case. But some jurors were not convinced, and the taint of reasonable doubt led one of them to question the very future of our legal system.
For many Americans, the civic responsibility of jury duty might seem an inconvenience; for Norma Thompson, it was a unique opportunity to bring her expertise to bear on the state of trial procedures in America today. With a background in political science, literature, and the classics, Thompson served as jury foreman in a trial of an “ordinary” murder in New Haven, Connecticut. Deliberations were buffeted by crosswinds of common sense and strong emotion. The trial ended in a hung jury because of what Thompson calls the “unreasonable doubts” of two fellow jurors concerning circumstantial evidence in an age when DNA testing holds out the promise of irrefutable proof.
In a compelling tale of contrasting rhetoric, Thompson takes readers into the courtroom to hear a streetwise convict verbally sparring with the D.A., then brings us into the confines of the jury room to have us witness nervous chatter over the meaning of evidence. She also contrasts this ordinary murder with the concurrent brutal stabbing of a Yale student, a case that attracted considerably more police and media attention.
Thompson argues that the indeterminate results of the trial are symptomatic of larger problems in the justice system and society and that the reluctance of most people today to be judgmental is damaging the criminal justice system. As an antidote, she suggests that great literary and historical texts can help us develop the capacity for prudential judgment. Gleaning insights from an imaginary jury of Tocqueville and Plato, Jane Austen and William Faulkner, among other writers and thinkers, Thompson shows how confrontation with the works of such authors can help model more proper habits of deliberation.
Blending personal memoir, social analysis, and literary criticism, Unreasonable Doubt is a challenging book that deals squarely with the evasion of judgment in contemporary political, social, and legal affairs. Brimming with brilliant insights, it suggests that the foundations for thought and action in our time have been neglected as a result of the wall erected between the social sciences and the humanities and invites readers to consider jury duty in a new light. Through real-world drama and literary reflection, it shows us that there is more to politics than power—and more of value to be found in the humanities than we may have supposed.
Gary Rosenshield offers a new interpretation of Dostoevsky's greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. He explores Dostoevsky's critique and exploitation of the jury trial for his own ideological agenda, both in his journalism and his fiction, contextualizing his portrayal of trials and trial participants (lawyers, jurors, defendants, judges) in the political, social, and ideological milieu of his time. Further, the author presents Dostoevsky's critique in terms of the main notions of the critical legal studies movement in the United States, showing how, over one hundred and twenty years ago, Dostoevsky explicitly dealt with the same problems that the law-and-literature movement has been confronting over the past two decades. This book should appeal to anyone with an interest in Russian literature, Russian history and culture, legal studies, law and literature, narratology, or metafiction and literary theory.