Editors' Comment

Published date01 September 2017
Date01 September 2017
Editors’ Comment
How do legal and state practices play out in their home terri-
tory, in various arenas and sites, how do these practices travel,
and how do they trail individuals as people travel, by choice or
not? The articles in this issue provide insights into this range of
related questions about law and society. The pieces consider law
on the ground as state power isolates and shifts individuals, they
look at law in how people access legal advice or develop trust in
legal institutions, and they study law in elite legal practices in
courts. The contributions cover a lot of territory—geographic,
social, and conceptual. Together, the articles in this issue present
an eclectic yet representative and engaging journey through
some top law and society scholarship.
Fittingly, the question of legal travel and international reach
is explicit in Valerie Hans’s 2016 Presidential Address as it
reflects on juries and the Collaborative Research Network of jury
scholars. Four commentators provide critical context for this
piece. Mary Rose points out in her response to Hans that,
although the jury is iconic in the American legal system, trials
have been decreasing as a way of resolving disputes. Indeed,
increasingly people within the United States sign agreements to
keep critical disputes out of the courts. And, processing people
accused of crimes would collapse if everyone insisted on their
right to trial rather than simply pleading guilty. The belief in the
institution of the jury belies the reality of disputes and of the
courtroom. Yet, the icon persists powerfully, contributing to an
image of an American legal system that promises drama through
conflict and wise resolution via democratic participation. The
complexity and power of the jury in both our legal imagination
and practice are reason enough to study how the jury travels.
The idea of juries serves different purposes within individual
political and legal systems, as those who respond to Hans explain.
Justifications for the institution of the jury pull on the importance
to democracy of lay participation in the justice system.
Law & Society Review, Volume 51, Number 3 (2017)
C2017 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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