In the U.S., a Jury of One's Peers Usually Decides Guilt Or Innocence. But in a multiethnic society... WHOSE PEERS?

Just how carefully balanced does a jury have to be in order to render a fair verdict -- not to mention one that the public will believe is fair? In language dating back to the Magna Carta, the English common-law tradition promises defendants a jury of their "peers." The U.S. Constitution mandates "an impartial jury," and American law requires that it be drawn from a representative cross section of the community.

None of those guarantees has been interpreted by U.S. courts to mean that defendants have a right to be tried by jurors of their racial or ethnic background. But in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!