Share this

The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries, Suja A. Thomas

Reviewed by Anna Roberts



This is a bold book. Suja A. Thomas urges that the jury—criminal, civil, and grand—be recognized as a fourth “branch” (p. 5). She asserts that procedures that have contributed to the reduction of the jury's power—including summary judgment and state prosecution without grand juries—are unconstitutional. And, as a Plan B if her constitutional arguments do not prevail, she proposes big changes that include informing juries about sentence exposure, presenting juries with any charges that were offered in plea bargaining, and requiring that juries justify their verdicts.

She backs up her boldness, not only with extensive research documenting “a common history of diminution of power” (p. 89) but also with thoughtful explications of the harm done to the jury and, as a result, to society. The jury is a decider of fates, and Thomas tells a powerful story of how its fate has been shaped: at various times and in various ways it has been championed, protected, and powerful, but it is now disfavored and disparaged as useless, and is perhaps all but useless, with its power transferred to branches that it was supposed to check.

Thomas is careful to include plenty for those who might resist such a bold vision. You do not need to find the jury's diminution unconstitutional to find it regrettable, for example. In

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

Strengths and Weaknesses in U.S. Elections

Complications of American Democracy: Elections Are Not Enough
Demetrios James Caraley

Why Americans Deserve a Constitutional Right to Vote for Presidential Electors
Demetrios James Caraley

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS