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Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room

Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room

(p.99) Five Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room
Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life
Sonali Chakravarti
University of Chicago Press

An orientation of radical enfranchisement emerges from (1) the civic education that must occur prior to jury service, (2) the learning that is scaffolded by the conventions of the trial, and (3) the collective reflection on jury verdicts that should occur after the fact in a way that incorporates them into the culture of citizenship. Juries and the process of deliberation that occur within them represent moments of great contingency and possibility, a fact often forgotten when only the verdict is remembered. Greater attention to the process of jury service and the political perspectives that emerged during the trial and deliberation but were later obscured is the final dimension of radical enfranchisement. To that end, this chapter will consider several notable jury trials (including the Central Park 5 and the Camden 28) and the key moments that revealed the desire of jurors for a more expansive understanding of their power, as well as moments that showed how jurors may be unsure of how to use this power if they have not developed the skills necessary for thoughtful discretion.

Keywords:   radical enfranchisement, jury, juror, Central Park Five, civic education, verdict

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