The civil jury is in this year. In The Political Puzzle of the Civil Jury, Jason Solomon examines the role of the civil jury as a political institution—in other words, the role of the jury in democracy. Seeking to begin a discussion in the literature on whether the civil jury serves as a political institution, Solomon exhaustively and critically examines the justifications for the civil jury in this role. Solomon’s is one of several excellent recent articles on the civil jury; others include John Langbein’s The Disappearance of the Civil Jury, and Darrell Miller’s Historical Tests, (Mostly) Unbalanced Rights, and What the Seventh Amendment Can Teach Us About the Second.
Solomon begins with a provocative argument that some of the most important cases in the last four terms of the Supreme Court, including Snyder v. Phelps, Wyeth v. Levine, Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, reflect a distrust of the civil jury and a concern that juries are deciding law-like questions. As a result, Solomon argues, we must continue to evaluate the jury. In doing this in the past, the focus has been on whether the jury has the ability to decide cases effectively. The ready response here has been that the ability of juries to decide cases matches that of judges. In addition to an adjudicative role, however, some scholars argue that the jury serves as a political institution. Solomon argues that this justification should be fully assessed, and the competencies of juries to judges should be compared. Continue reading "Considering the Civil Jury"