The Criminal Trial Jury
This seminar, which is taught by a local state court judge, examines the criminal trial jury from both a practical and theoretical perspective. The course will consider the history of the criminal jury trial, legal and strategic considerations in jury selection, jurors' ability to act as fact-finders, rules protecting jury deliberations, the consequences of juror misconduct, and the practical importance of plea bargains as an alternative to jury trials. Students will observe portions of actual jury trials occurring at the Palo Alto Superior Court courthouse. They will also examine legal decisions, theoretical critiques, and empirical research about the jury. Class discussion will consider the practical challenges for lawyers and judges posed by jury trials. The course will culminate in a discussion of potential reforms to the jury system, with each student proposing a reform based on his or her in-person observations and review of the relevant literature. This course will combine a 2 hour seminar with a mandatory 1 hour per week "practicum" involving time spent at court. Elements used in grading: Class participation and a final research paper.