The Case Against Anonymous Juries

AuthorJane E. Kirtley
Published in Litigation, Volume 48, Number 1, Fall 2021. © 2021 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be
copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. 27
“Fairness, the Appearance of Fairness,
and Public Confidence in the System”
The Case Against
Anonymous Juries
The author is the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the Hubbard School of Journalism and
Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
In the classic 1949 comedy-drama Adam’s Rib, legendary actors
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play married lawyers—
Adam and Amanda Bonner—who find themselves on opposite
sides of the high-profile prosecution of New York housewife
Doris Attinger for the attempted murder of her philandering
husband. The sophisticated battle of the sexes offers prescient
observations about societal and legal inequities and the differ-
ence between following the letter of the law and doing justice.
In my law classes, I play excerpts from this film to demonstrate
how women attorneys have been portrayed in popular culture
over time. While watching the film again recently, I was struck by
how the screenwriters—another legendary couple, Ruth Gordon
and Garson Kanin—depicted the jury selection process in the
criminal trial court in Manhattan.
The sequence begins with the bailiff calling the first name
drawn from the jury wheel:
Bailiff: Paul Hurlock. Take your coat with you, please.
Place your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand. You
do solemnly swear that you will true answers maketo all ques-
tions put to you upon the several challenges touching upon
your competence as a fair and impartial juror in this proceed-
ing between the people of the state of New York and Doris
Szabo Attinger, so help you God?
Hurlock: I do.
Bailiff: Be seated. State your full name and address.
Hurlock: Paul Hurlock, 1731 Boylston Avenue, New York City.
After establishing that Hurlock’s occupation is in “infants’
headgear,” assistant district attorney Tracy’s perfunctory voir
dire asks Hurlock whether he is acquainted with any of the par-
ties to the case. Upon receiving a negative response, Tracy deems
the potential juror acceptable to the People. But when defense
counsel Hepburn asks Hurlock, “Do you believe in equal rights
for women?” and Hurlock replies, “I should say not,” Hepburn
successfully challenges him for cause, because, as she explains,
I submit that my entire lineof defense is based on the proposi-
tionthat persons of the female sexshould be dealt with, before
the law,as the equals of persons of the male sex. I submit that
I cannot hope to argue this line before minds hostile to and
prejudiced against the female sex.
Another turn of the wheel yields the name Benjamin Klausner.
After being sworn in, Klausner confirms the correct spelling of
his name, and when asked to state his address, he responds, “107

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