A Trial by Jury
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A Trial by Jury

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  26 reviews
When Princeton historian D. Graham Burnett answered his jury duty summons, he expected to spend a few days catching up on his reading in the court waiting room. Instead, he finds himself thrust into a high-pressure role as the jury foreman in a Manhattan trial. There he comes face to face with a stunning act of violence, a maze of conflicting evidence, and a parade of biza...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Vintage (first published September 11th 2001)
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Eric_W
Trials are a "retelling, in a string of words . . . a distressing distortion of the cluttered thickness of things as they happen."

Burnett is a Princeton history professor who writes of his experience as the foreman of a jury for a murder trial. He became foreman, when the original foreman just disappeared, just before the deliberations were to begin. Burnett considered the experience "the most intense sixty-six hours [hours of jury deliberation; the entire experience lasted seventeen days] of my...more
Kaion
A Trial By Jury is a nonfiction account of Burnett's own experience serving in the jury of a murder trial. It brings up some interesting ideas and is a nice read if you're interested in matters of law and the justice system. The idea that merely and incredibly being citizens and alive as people somehow makes us necessary and qualified to judge someone's guilt or innocence is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system in the United States, and yet makes one wonder how that comes about. Here, Bu...more
Jeff Doucette
A memoir of a young academic who's selected to serve as foreman on a jury in an NYC murder case. It's a very quick read--very economically written--and provides a good overview of the limited ability of the jury system to reliably render justice.

The author discusses his frustration with the limited information--none remotely dispositive--upon which the jury must base its decision. To be sure, the case is a difficult one: the accused claims self-defense, there were no witnesses to the murder, ch...more
Eric Farr
This book is a nonfiction account of one murder trial, focusing especially on the jury deliberations in which the author took part. It is equal parts basic introduction to theories of jurisprudence, dramatic recounting of a murder trial and subsequent jury deliberations, and reflective consideration and criticism of both the jury process and the abstract world of academic life. The prose is clean and clear, and even the most densely complex theoretical considerations are explained efficiently. I...more
B
This is the story of one man's experience on a New York state jury. Very interesting. Real jury stories, I think, are not often shared beyond people's circle of friends and inquiring attorneys from that trial.

This book is aided by what appears to be an interesting and socially and morally complex trial.

The narrator comes across as awfully smug, self-conscious, and judgmental, but he seems to know it, which mitigates the negative effect. At any rate, I'd be scared to be on a jury with this guy....more
Kris
This is an account of Burnett's experience on the jury for a murder trial. It is not meant to be about the facts of the case, but about how the people on the jury came to their verdict. My curiosity left me wanting more details of the case, but I understand why the author only included what he did. Having served on a jury myself (though for a case not nearly as long or serious as this), I found that Burnett's description of the quandary of the juror (having to make a judgement without being able...more
Jesse
An interesting look at life in the jury room of a murder trial. Very opinionated and very much one man's side of the story. Still interesting though.
Liza
This was a quick read and I appreciated the insight into jury duty--seeing as I have yet to be called! And, when I do get called, it is unlikely that I'll be called for a murder trial. This author, though coming off a bit elitist at times, wrote non-fiction extraordinarily well, making this read so much like a narrative that I got through it in no time. He raised some very interesting questions about the law versus justice and what our responsibilities are as citizens.
David Quinn
D. Graham Burnett is a pompous jerk and if you don't believe me you can read this book and judge for yourself. Maybe I just don't like books by smarmy know-it-alls. The premise is interesting enough and the workings and dynamics of the jury room are interesting but the author overwhelms the story with his biases, enormous intellect and ego.
Ted
I gained a new understanding of the power the state has over it's citizens. On the other hand, I discoved a hatred of this power. We apparantly have no rights as a juror - just slaves with a job thrust upon them. I write this just after getting a juror questionaire for my county. I have very mixed feelings about this endeavor.
Sara
Feb 13, 2009 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who has served on a jury!
I stumbled upon this book and breezed right through it. While this is certainly not a ground-breaking piece of literature, the author provides an interesting look into the unique experience of jury duty. If you have ever served on one, you will definitely find this book worth the read.
Celine
Interesting look into jury duty written by someone who was selected to be the foreman on a murder case in NYC. I got annoyed during the deliberations piece, in all honesty, but realize the interpretation of law and the heavy responsibility the U.S. justice system puts on jurors can be complex.
Loretto
I think the author truly captured the feeling of frustration a juror feels. You are never given all the information you need to make the "right" decision. The only case I sat on as a juror was more about the lawyers than the defendant. A real insight into the workings of a real trial.
Etienne
I enjoyed reading this book. It got lots of negative reviews (condescending author, etc) but I found the author brutally honest even if it didn't always make him look great. I understand what he went through as jury foreman.
Edie
Yeah, hmmmm. Another up and down book. Anytime I was thinking I needed to put it down for a bit and have a look at something else, the author would come up with a comment or insight that clicked and I would continue reading.
Matthew
An interesting first-person view into being on a jury in New York in 2000 where the crime was murder. The author is clearly an academic, as he occasionally weighs in on the place of a jury in our current legal system.
Chris
I think I remember this book being quite interesting to read. Just reading the short paragraph about it almost makes me want to read it over again just out of curiosity.
Aaron
Very readable account of a historian's experience as foreman of a jury considering a murder trial. Great insight into the messy pursuit of justice.
Andrea Biancamano
Well written. Gave an interesting look at what a jury goes through when making a decision.
Sarah
Interesting read about the hardships faced when on a sequestered jury. Enjoyed it.
Kim
Very interesting insight on what goes on behind the jury room. Great read.
Ellen
boo to this book! It is written simply and made me feel like I was twelve....
Yariella
interesting account of that oh-so-great civic obligation - jury duty.
Jack
Splendid, albeit somewhat depressing.
Jared Della Rocca
David black
Cara
Cara marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2014
Britt
Britt marked it as to-read
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