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A Trial by Jury

A Trial by Jury

A Trial by Jury

作    者
Burnett, D. Graham;  
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所属分类
Law > Jury
出版社
Random House Inc
ISBN-13
9780375727511
ISBN-10
0375727515
出版日期
2002-10
页数
单位
尺寸
20.32 * 1.91 * 13.34
装帧
Paperback
版本

Product Description

When Princeton historian D. Graham Burnett answered his jury duty summons, he expected to spend a few days catching up on his reading in the court waiting room. Instead, he finds himself thrust into a high-pressure role as the jury foreman in a Manhattan trial. There he comes face to face with a stunning act of violence, a maze of conflicting evidence, and a parade of bizarre witnesses. But it is later, behind the closed door of the jury room, that he encounters the essence of the jury experience — he and eleven citizens from radically different backgrounds must hammer consensus out of confusion and strong disagreement. By the time he hands over the jury’s verdict, Burnett has undergone real transformation, not just in his attitude toward the legal system, but in his understanding of himself and his peers.

Offering a compelling courtroom drama and an intimate and sometimes humorous portrait of a fractious jury, A Trial by Jury is also a finely nuanced examination of law and justice, personal responsibility and civic duty, and the dynamics of power and authority between twelve equal people.

About the Author

D. Graham Burnett is a historian of science and the author of Masters of All They Surveyed. After graduating from Princeton University, he was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1999, Chicago’s Newberry Library awarded him the Nebenzahl Prize in the History of Cartography. A 1999–2000 Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, he has taught at Yale and Columbia Universities, and is currently an assistant professor in the history department at Princeton.

Amazon.com Review

Historian D. Graham Burnett writes about his experience as the foreman of the jury in a murder trial in New York City, what he calls "the most intense sixty-six hours of my life." There was nothing especially spectacular about the case; it was not a famous one, and while A Trial by Jury holds interest, it's not a John Grisham potboiler. Yet Burnett uses the experience to illuminate the heavy responsibilities of jury duty and all the maddening frustrations associated with determining something as deceptively simple as reasonable doubt.

"The jury room is a remarkable--and largely inaccessible--space in our society, a space where ideas, memories, virtues, and prejudices clash with the messy stuff of the big, bad world," Burnett writes in this elegant chronicle. His primary characters--his fellow jury members--come alive on these pages: "a clutch of strangers yelled, cursed, rolled on the floor, vomited, whispered, embraced, sobbed, and invoked both God and necromancy." He grows to like some, and "loathe" others. ("Are there some citizens not clearly able to distinguish daytime television from daily life?" he asks at one point.) Parts of the book are funny, as when he describes the small steps he took to encourage the trial lawyers to strike him out of the jury pool: "I promised to give any healthy prosecutor hives. I brought along a copy of The New York Review of Books just in case." Alas, Burnett found himself in the courtroom, and eventually he became foreman. This allows him to wrestle through the contradictory evidence presented by both sides--and forces him to conclude that even the truth can resemble a muddle when presented in court. He has trouble making up his own mind about the case--this is no Twelve Angry Men update, though its insights on jury-room dynamics are just as instructive. Burnett also ruminates on his own profession: "I realize now that for me--a humanist, an academic, a poetaster--the primary aim of sustained thinking and talking had always been, in a way, more thinking and talking. Cycles of reading, interpreting, and discussing were always exactly that: cycles. One never 'solved' a poem, one read it, and then read it again--each reading emerging from earlier efforts and preparing the mind for future readings." Jury duty, of course, demands an awesome finality--and the conclusion to the trial involving Burnett is one that haunts the author after the gavel falls. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“[Burnett] is a graceful, economical writer, with a sharp eye for detail and a nuanced feel for character. . . . Irresistible.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Immensely readable.” —The Washington Post

“Burnett manages to paint vivid portraits of his fellow-jurors and examine the knottier issues of class, race, and gender that complicate the justice system’s search for objective truth.” —The New Yorker

“A pleasure to read . . . Illuminating and, ultimately, uplifting.” —The Nation

“Never have we been privy to actual jury room deliberations in all of their stark human complexity and perversity — and certainly never under the guidance of a sensibility, intelligence, and narrative skill like Mr. Burnett’s.” —New York Law Journal

From the Inside Flap

When Princeton historian D. Graham Burnett answered his jury duty summons, he expected to spend a few days catching up on his reading in the court waiting room. Instead, he finds himself thrust into a high-pressure role as the jury foreman in a Manhattan trial. There he comes face to face with a stunning act of violence, a maze of conflicting evidence, and a parade of bizarre witnesses. But it is later, behind the closed door of the jury room, that he encounters the essence of the jury experience — he and eleven citizens from radically different backgrounds must hammer consensus out of confusion and strong disagreement. By the time he hands over the jury's verdict, Burnett has undergone real transformation, not just in his attitude toward the legal system, but in his understanding of himself and his peers.

Offering a compelling courtroom drama and an intimate and sometimes humorous portrait of a fractious jury, A Trial by Jury is also a finely nuanced examination of law and justice, personal responsibility and civic duty, and the dynamics of power and authority between twelve equal people.

From the Back Cover

“[Burnett] is a graceful, economical writer, with a sharp eye for detail and a nuanced feel for character. . . . Irresistible.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Immensely readable.” —The Washington Post

“Burnett manages to paint vivid portraits of his fellow-jurors and examine the knottier issues of class, race, and gender that complicate the justice system’s search for objective truth.” —The New Yorker

“A pleasure to read . . . Illuminating and, ultimately, uplifting.” —The Nation

“Never have we been privy to actual jury room deliberations in all of their stark human complexity and perversity — and certainly never under the guidance of a sensibility, intelligence, and narrative skill like Mr. Burnett’s.” —New York Law Journal

From AudioFile

A professor of science history recounts his disturbing experience on the jury of a murder trial. His intelligent, well-observed memoir raises questions about the personalities, politics, and issues surrounding the administration of justice through the jury system. Burnett reads with a thick and awkward tongue, but with a nice sense of drama. His oral interpretation of his fellow jurors possesses the authenticity of the eyewitness. Further, as author and narrator, he superbly parses complex ideas. Altogether absorbing and thought-provoking. Y.R. © AudioFile 2002,Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Combining an ethical examination of civic obligation with a meticulous character study, Princeton historian of science Burnett (Masters of All They Surveyed) dramatizes his experience of being selected for jury duty in a capital case. Told as two parts of the same tale (trial and jury deliberations), the story is appropriately navigated between several Scylla-and-Charybdis pairings the court and the jury room, the truth and lies of the case, the application of laws and the fiery desire for justice. While the murder trial delves into sordid details of transvestism, male prostitution and rape, the tale takes its potent turn when Burnett is unexpectedly moved into the position of jury foreman (the original foreman simply disappeared one day) and must play a critical role in the jury deliberations. Holding other jurors' wide-ranging emotions in check while staying focused on the case himself, Burnett ultimately brings readers face-to-face with the stultifying bureaucracy of American law in praxis. Drawing on an academic and intellectual background, he builds an impressive melodrama and tense, emotionally exhausting scenes in the jury room that surely will recall Twelve Angry Men. But while the ruminations are articulate and engrossing, readers may wonder how Burnett plays a key role in the story while managing to remain distant enough to render the facts of the jury room as easily as he does. (Sept. 19)Forecast: Knopf is taking a big position on this, with a first printing of 100,000, a 10-city author tour and national advertising on CNN and Court TV, where Burnett will also make appearances. If he comes across as personable, his glimpse behind the closed doors of justice could tempt a wide range of curious readers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

History professor Burnett ended up on a New York City jury that heard a kinky, gory murder case. He discloses the verdict in the first chapter, so readers are not in suspense about the ending. But there is suspense of other sorts: How will the prosecution try to make the case that what occurred was murder rather than self-defense? How will the defense counter that accusation? How will the 12 jurors reach a verdict given their seemingly incompatible backgrounds, beliefs, intelligence levels, and understanding of the evidence? The book is divided into two parts--what happened in open court, and what happened behind closed doors during four days (including sequestration at night) of deliberations. Burnett is a keen observer at trial, becoming especially poignant when explaining how jurors are kept in the dark about so many relevant factors, such as the backgrounds of the victim and the defendant. He is also observant when narrating what took place during the jury deliberations. But with 12 equally important characters to describe, and with the discussion taking so many seemingly incomprehensible turns, the narrative becomes difficult to follow. Burnett, a perceptive and fluent stylist, wisely decides to discuss only the case at hand, rather than extrapolating from his idiosyncratic experience to all criminal trials. An aggressive marketing campaign will spur demand. Steve Weinberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

How It Ended

I have on my desk at this moment twelve five-by-seven ruled index cards. On each of them the same two words appear: "not guilty." Eight are written in pen, four in pencil. On eight of them the words appear along a single line, on two the words are perpendicular to the ruling, and on two they are scrawled diagonally (one of these last has been written on an inverted card, turned so that the red top line and margin are at the bottom). Three are in all caps, three have only the initial letters capitalized, three are all lowercase, two others show the "N" capitalized but not the "g." In the last of them the word "not" appears in all caps, but the word "guilty" is all lowercase.

By dint of these varied inscriptions, made in silence in a few tense moments, Monte Virginia Milcray walked out of Part 24 of the New York State Supreme Court, got into the elevator, and descended to the cold wetness of Centre Street a little before noon on February 19, 2000. I preceded him by several minutes, getting into a cab with my duffel bag and riding the dozen blocks home to my wife, with whom I had not spoken in four days. The cards were folded in the breast pocket of my navy blazer. I was crying.

The twelve cards represent the potent residue of the most intense sixty-six hours of my life, a period during which I served as the foreman of a jury charged to decide whether Monte Milcray was guilty of murdering Randolph Cuffee. During that period, twelve individuals of considerable diversity engaged in a total of twenty-three hours of sustained conversation in a small, bare room. We ran the gamut of group dynamics: a clutch of strangers yelled, cursed, rolled on the floor, vomited, whispered, embraced, sobbed, and invoked both God and necromancy. There were moments when the scene could have passed for a graduate seminar in political theory, others that might have been a jujitsu class. A few came straight out of bedlam. Before it was over, we had spent three nights and four days continuously attended by armed guards (who extended their affable surveillance into all lavatories); we had been shuttled to outlying hotels, into rooms with disconnected phones and sinks in which we washed our clothes; we had watched one juror pulled from our midst and rushed to the hospital (a physical collapse, caused by some combination of missing medication and the crucible of the deliberations), another make a somewhat halfhearted effort to escape (he was apprehended), and a third insist on her right to contact her own lawyer to extricate her from the whole affair (she was threatened with contempt).

During significant stretches in this trying time, we considered two weeks of testimony in The People of New York v. Monte Virginia Milcray and struggled to understand two things: what happened in Cuffee's apartment on the night of August 1, 1998, and what responsibilities we had as citizens and jurors.

It is my intention to tell this story as best I can. I am doing so for several reasons, among them two in particular: first, because there are things to be learned from the way events unfolded (about people, about the law, about justice, about truth and how we know it), and, second, because the jury room is a most remarkable--and largely inaccessible--space in our society, a space where ideas, memories, virtues, and prejudices clash with the messy stuff of the big, bad world. We expect much of this room, and we think about it less often than we probably should.

Before I embark on this task, however, a few words of warning. There are really two stories here: that of the case itself--a trial story, a courtroom story, a drama focused around a violent death; and that of the deliberations--the story of what happened behind the closed door of the jury room. Each of these stories is complex, and they are of course entangled. I set out to write this book in order to tell the latter, but to do so I must rehearse elements of the former. Let me be clear, though: it is by no means my intention to retry the case in a personal memoir. The case is closed. In writing this book, I have made no additional investigations of the events at issue, I have not revisited the records of the trial, and I have not interviewed any of the people involved. All of that was tempting, and would certainly have been interesting, but my sense has been that to embark on such digging would have been, inevitably, to put the trial on trial, to lose myself again in the twisting labyrinth of unrecoverable fact that we negotiated in the jury room. I would have begun to extend that labyrinth, to open new rooms and passages. And this was not the aim. I am sure there is more to the maze than I have seen (when is there not?), but by keeping notes during the weeks of the trial, I laid a thread along the path we took together as jurors, and that is the thread I will follow here.

A further disclaimer: what I am writing is my own story of the deliberations. I have no idea what those who shared the experience with me would make of this document should they pick it up. Or let me speak more frankly. I am sure each of them would contest my story in different ways--argue, perhaps, I did not represent them rightly; assert that this part over here was not that way; draw to my attention things I have forgotten. If one learns anything from a criminal trial under the adversary system, it is that sincere folk can differ vehemently about events, and that there is seldom any easy way to figure out what actually went on.

At different moments while writing this account--much of it longhand in a notebook during the weeks following the acquittal--I have closed my eyes and tried to imagine what the small, bare jury room looked like from the perspective of the others. We sat around the same table, but the room must have appeared slightly different to each. I try to see in my mind's eye how things looked from the other side--the door on one's right, the winter windows at one's back.

That is where Dean Kossler sat. What would he think of this narrative? Dean--the big, solid, former bull-riding cowboy turned vacuum-cleaner repairman. Dean--the six-foot-three-inch born-again God-fearing veteran of the U.S. armed forces. When I first noticed him, in the early days of jury selection, he was spitting tobacco juice behind the radiator by the elevator during a break. He had thin brown hair slicked back and a manly mustache; he wore a weath- ered pair of work boots. A blowhard contractor of some sort, I assumed, and I pegged him, without much thought, as a poster boy for Susan Faludi's tragic tale of the white working-class male--big chest, big gut, big debt. I called him, irreverently, "the Faludiman" in my notes. What did I know? Before the trial ended, he had blown my stereotype (indeed, any stereotype) wide open.

What would he say about all this? About what I have written?

Or Felipe Rodriguez? I originally wrote to myself that he seemed "sweet and shy." He giggled often, wore a large number of braided string bracelets, seemed lost in his giant orange parka. I came to loathe him. By the end, he had thrown much into question for me: not least, my confidence in jury trials. Are there some citizens not clearly able to distinguish daytime television from daily life? Apparently there are. Should they participate in deciding on the freedom of another person? Maybe. I doubt he remembers things as I do.

And there were others, of course. Leah Tennent, the self-possessed and buoyantly bohemian young woman with whom I read Wallace Stevens poems in the back of the bus. Olivelle "Vel" Tover, the youthful, clear-eyed black woman with an elaborate braided coiffure who studied a manual of purgative and rejuvenating fasts in the waiting area; we discussed together the value of self-denial, of cleansing the body through the strictest diets. Rachel Patis, the solid, quiet, unflappable West Indian woman who volunteered at her local police precinct and wore blouses trimmed with lace; she moved slowly, sat very still, seemed like an older lady. Patricia Malley, "Pat," the dyed-blonde tough-girl in the tight black jeans who spoke loudly and much, often well. She seemed instantly animated in Dean's company, adjusted her eyeliner, laughed easily and with gusto.

And so on: James Lanes (who went by Jim), Jessica Pol- lero, Suzy O'Mear, Paige Barri, and Adelle Benneth. This last, like me, was a professor of history. More improbable still, she focused, as I do, on the history of science, and had, like me, a particular interest in exploration and travel narratives (though she worked on the medieval period and I on the modern). A striking coincidence, all this.

All together, then, we were two professional histo- rians (Adelle and I), two ad-copy writers (Jessica and Jim), a globe-trotting Gen-X software developer (Leah), an industrial-vacuum-cleaner repairman with a rodeo tattoo who moonlighted in car-stereo installation (Dean), an interior decorator (Paige), an "independent marketing executive" and part-time security guard (Rachel), an actress (Pat, but was she also a bartender?), the manager of certain commercial enterprises owned by the "Mattress King of Miami" (Vel), and a couple of others (Felipe, Suzy) of less clear occupation. Twelve citizens, twelve different characters.

The deliberations were theirs as much as mine. This story, however, is mine alone. Like a witness, I am fallible; I shall surely misremember things. And even if my memory were perfect, what retelling, in a string of words, is not a distressing distortion of the cluttered thickness of things as they happen?

Trials are about this.

From Library Journal

A young scholar with a one-year fellowship at a prestigious New York City learning institution suddenly finds his quiet, bookish life interrupted by jury duty in Manhattan. Burnett (history, Princeton) chronicles his own path from ordinary citizen and prospective juror, to seated juror, to jury foreman, to peacemaker, and, finally, to resolution artist as he uses his own unique blend of knowledge and reason to lead 11 other disparate souls to a unanimous verdict. The book offers rare, insightful views inside a jury room, as people from all walks of life try to work together and reach a consensus. The case at hand involves a complex blend of seduction and murder, with the defendant claiming he killed the victim in self-defense after being pressured for sex. What emerges from the author's leadership of the deliberations is his attempt to build a consensus through a unique blend of patience, knowledge, and wisdom intrinsic to the rigor and discipline of classical and academic thought processes. Burnett reminds us how imperfect the adversarial system of law really is, and the narrative format allows for a rapid and enjoyable overview of the topic. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
- Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.