by Sukey HowardNovember, 2001
D. Graham Burnett, a scholar and professor of history, had looked forward to serving on a jury, but he hadn't an inkling of the impact it would have on him. He was picked as foreman of the jury that heard a complicated Manhattan murder case. It took well over a week to hear all the evidence and 66 hours of sequestered deliberation that at times "pushed civics into the realm of extreme sports" for the 12 jurors to reach a verdict. Read by the author, A Trial by Jury is his riveting anatomy of that verdict and a keen description of a difficult case and a difficult group in a very difficult dynamic. But more, it's a keenly observed revelation of what our legal system is really about, why the state carries the heavy burden of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" and how this group of disparate people came to the decision that in following the strictures of the law, often arcane and confusing, they were not necessarily carrying out justice. Fascinating and thought-provoking all the way through.
Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.