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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Journal of Gender and Law

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Vanguards of Democracy: Juries as Forerunners of Representative Government


Juries are the most diverse institution of government. Due to the random selection of members, ease of access, and procedural rights to challenge the exclusion of protected classes, juries reflect the diversity of America far better than legislatures, courts, the bar, and virtually every other civic institution. This Article aims to do two things. First, document how juries have become more diverse along the lines of income, gender, and race; and how each of these groups had to surmount the powers that be to take their place in American jury boxes. Second, demonstrate how juries allowed marginalized groups in each of these categories to exercise political power sooner and more solidly than other institutions of government. As a result, current declines in the use of jury trials mean less-representative decision-makers will have a larger role in our jurisprudence.

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