Do We Trust Juries?

According to a recent poll on jury duty, the answer is yes. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed believe that a jury is fair and impartial all or most all of the time. Even more interestingly, half of those surveyed said they would expect a jury to give a fair verdict as opposed to a judge. Only 23% selected a judge over a jury (27% were unsure). In other words, by a margin of more than 2 to 1, we trust juries more than judges. Only 18% of African-Americans and 19% of Hispanics chose a judge.

Maybe our founding fathers were on to something with this whole “jury of our peers” thing. But I don’t think this is a knock on our judges. Instead, I think people would prefer to be judged by regular everyday people like themselves who are outside of the process.

In light of the recent Medtronic ruling and drug preemption cases pending before the Supreme Court, I would like to add one more question to the survey: Do you think a jury or the FDA is more likely to protect you and your family from a defectively designed pharmaceutical drug or medical device? Someone do this survey and send the results to the Supreme Court.

Thanks to the Florida Jury Selection Blog for the link to the study.

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  • Paul W Dennis

    58% isn’t an overwhelming number – that means more than 4 in 10 think juries are NOT fair and impartial
    As long juries are selected by the competing interests with peremptory challenges used to eliminate anyone with half a brain, I doubt juries will ever be fair and impartial

  • Ron Miller

    Actually, no, the data is more overwhelming than that figure suggests. Go look at Table 5 on the link.

    I also think the challanges actually make for a more more impartial jury because it weeds out the extremes although I know where you are coming from when you say that.

    Thanks for the comment.

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