Summary and Info
It is just as interesting to read this book as it is to read its reviews on Amazon.
The book gets 5 stars, mostly for the effort.
It is not well written.
Burnett is not a writer so I didn't expect good writing.
Lots of reviewers are blaming the condescending intellectual tone.
I expected to read the experience of a juror, not an accomplished non-fiction writer, so the writing did not bother me.
What was interesting was the honesty of this account.
I think that all of Burnett's choices made sense.
Seeking a hung jury at first made sense since it seemed like the jurors had very different opinions and that it would be hard to agree on a verdict.
Then figuring out that they could reach a decision and therefore going for it and trying to convince some other jurors made sense too. This is not a theoretical class about teamwork. The jury has to come up with a verdict. If you're convinced that your verdict is the right one and that you decide to try to convince other jurors, I don't see anything wrong with that. From my personal experience, some jurors come up with verdicts that are completely and absolutely wrong. This is for the most part out of laziness. (This just happened yesterday in San Francisco in a murder case. The defense sought acquittal. The prosecution sought 1st degree murder. The jury's verdict was manslaugther. Manslaughter was not even an option!!! The only options were 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder or acquittal).
I've also personally seen it in my jury where some jurors' verdict made no sense at all. They did not understand the charges, evidence, etc, or were too lazy to do so. It takes a lot of work, listening and patience to try to reason with them. It looks that it's just what Burnett did.
A review also mentioned that the author should have interviewed all the jurors to ask them what they thought.
That would have been a very different book, and not necessarily a better one. This is just an account of the raw impressions almost as if it was written just out of the courthouse. There's merit to that.
This book very much resonated with my own experience as a juror and as a foreman.
More About the Author
D. Graham Burnett is an American historian of science and a writer. He is a professor at Princeton University and an editor at Cabinet, based in Brooklyn, New York.
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