Can Juries be Lost in Translation?

Date01 September 2017
Published date01 September 2017
Commentary on Valerie P. Hans’s Presidential Address
Can Juries be Lost in Translation?
Mary R. Rose
Amidst all the excitement that a focus on juries generates in
me, and despite the admiration I feel for Professor Hans and
other colleagues who have given significant time and energy to
cross-national work, Valerie Hans’ address also provokes in me a
keen awareness of the current limits of the literature on juries.
The literature has quite a bit of research on the “branches” asso-
ciated with juries: the way juries’ decisions agree (or not) with
others decision makers (Eisenberg et al. 2005; Kalven and Zeisel
1966) or with reason (Vidmar 1995); narrative decision-making
strategies that jurors use (Pennington and Hastie 1986), the link
between juries and other civic participation (e.g., Gastil et al.
2008; Musick et al. 2015), group decision making dynamics and
social influence (e.g., York Cornwell and Hans 2011; Sommers
2006), racial biases in jury processes (Fukurai, Butler, and Krooth
1993; Clair and Winter 2016), and political theory surrounding
deliberation effects (e.g., Abramson, 1994; Gastil et al. 2008).
However, Professor Hans’s essay reminded me that scholars
seem less likely to talk about the tree itself. That is, jury scholars
seem strikingly less clear about a basic question: what makes a
jury a “jury”? Are some features of a jury necessary in order to
call it a “jury,” and when has a body been altered or “translated”
so much that its core functions and capabilities threaten to be lost
in the process? I am no expert in international research, and I
I am honored to write a commentary on Valerie Hans’s Presidential Address, I heard
the address while seated not far from a table full of cheering Argentinians who are in the
midst of advocating for, launching, and supporting a nascent jury system in the several
provinces that Professor Hans describes. As she writes, through sometimes-unexpected cir-
cumstances and invitations, Professor Hans has engaged with these and other collaborators
and has set up lasting institutions that support and encourage the spread of lay participa-
tion in legal decision making. Working alongside in-country leaders and scholars, and capi-
talizing on mechanisms within the Law and Society Association, Valerie Hans is literally
changing the world in this area.
Please direct all correspondence to Mary R. Rose, Associate Professor, Department of
Sociology, University of Texas, 305 East 23rd Street, A1700, Austin, Texas, 78712-1086;
Law & Society Review, Volume 51, Number 3 (2017)
C2017 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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