Summary: Trial And Error In The American Courtroom

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THE JURY: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom by Stephen J. Adler is a significant book on reforming the jury system. Alder is the legal Editor at the Wall Street Journal and has done several interviews with lawyers, judges and legal experts in order to better understand the current justice system and to find out solutions to the system’s faults. Alder starts off with a story of how a woman named Maude was acquitted by the jury after charges was set on her for pistol whipping a man who had sewn up her horse's mouth for eating his hay. Alder explains “Maude's case is quintessentially American, and it reveals what we imagine and want our jury system to be. It shows the little guy speaking for all of us, justice handed up from the community, not…show more content…
It provides the citizens protection and is "uplifting, energizing, and empowering." He commends the jury system as a way to give the community power over punishment and not solely the government. This to Alder is the ideal jury. A community coming together in favor of a just ruling that contradicts the law. To him this shows the higher morality that the jurors exhibited and the superior wisdom they showed. But to Alder the jury system is in jeopardy and in need to be fixed and reformed in order for it to continue to look like the ideal. Even though Alder holds the idea of nullification in such high regard he sees that in practice it produces bad and “patently stupid--verdicts that frequently resulted.” The jury system has fallen from its glory. In Alder’s eyes the biggest problem the jury system has is not the jury itself but the process of jury selection and the best way to reform the process is by eliminate peremptory challenges altogether.

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