The Jury and Democracy Project



The Jury and Democracy Project aims to understand the impact that jury service has on citizens. Too often, people think of the jury as nothing more than a means of reaching verdicts. In fact, serving on a jury can change how citizens think of themselves and their society. Our purpose is to study those changes. The project’s website provides access to the people behind the project, the writings they have produced, the data they have collected, general background on the project, and other links of interest. Principal investigators of this project are Perry Dees (Director of Institutional Research, New Jersey Institute of Technology), John Gastil (Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington), and Phil Weiser (Associate Professor in the School of Law at the University of Colorado).


Publications of the Jury and Democracy Project

Gastil, J., Deess, E. P., Weiser, P., & Larner, J. (in press). Jury service and electoral participation: A test of the participation hypothesis. Journal of Politics. Initially presented at the 2006 International Communication Association conference in Dresden, Germany, where it won a Top Paper award in political communication. [Demonstrates jury service-voting connection in multiple United States counties and provides more precise results than the 2002 study.]

Gastil, J., Leighter, J., Black, L., & Deess, E. P. (in press). From small group member to citizen: Measuring the impact of jury deliberation on citizen identity and civic norms. Human Communication Research. Previous version presented at the 2005 annual conference of the National Communication Association, Boston, MA. [Demonstrates how jury deliberation changes jurors' civic attitudes.]

Hickerson, A., & Gastil, J. (in press). Assessing the Difference Critique of Deliberation: Gender, Emotion and the Jury Experience. Communication Theory. [Shows that jurors' subjective deliberative experience is shaped somewhat by the nature of the charges, the gender composition of the jury, and the juror's sex, but the findings also show very limited differences along demographic lines.]

Gastil, J., Burkhalter, S., & Black, L. (2007). Do Juries Deliberate? A Study of deliberation, individual difference, and group member satisfaction at a municipal courthouse. Small Group Research, 38, 337-359. Previous versions presented in 2006 at theINGRoup conference in Pittsburgh and the National Communication Association conference in San Antonio. [Shows that jurors generally believe they deliberated and what individual and group characteristics were conducive to higher levels of deliberation.]

Gastil, J., & Weiser, P. (2006). Jury Service As an Invitation to Citizenship: Assessing the Civic Value of Institutionalized Deliberation. Policy Studies Journal, 34, 605-627. [Demonstrates how satisfying jurors' expectations for jury service yields changes in selected civic and political behaviors.]

Gall, A., & Gastil, J. (2006). The magic of Raymond Burr: How jury orientation prepares citizens for jury service. Paper submitted to Court Manager. [Uses a natural experiment to show how exposure to jury orientation briefly boosts public attitudes toward the jury and their willingness to serve.]

Gastil, J., Deess, E. P., & Weiser, P. (2002). Civic awakening in the jury room: A test of the connection between jury deliberation and political participation. Journal of Politics, 64, 585-595. [Demonstrates jury service-voting connection in Thurston County, WA.]

Executive Summary for Study Participants

Gastil, J., Weiser, P., & Deess, E. P. Executive Summary of findings for King County survey participants. (2006). [Summarizes some research findings and describes political activities and attitudes in King County.]

Conference Papers and Article Submissions

Gastil, J., Fukurai, H., Anderson, K., & Nolan, M. (2006). Seeing is believing: The impact of jury service on attitudes toward legal institutions and the implications for international jury reform. Submitted to Asian Journal of Comparative Law. [Shows how the experience of jury service influences attitudes toward juries and judges.]

Gastil, J., & Xenos, M. (2006). Of attitudes and engagement: Clarifying the reciprocal relationship between civic attitudes and political participation. Revising for submission to Journal of Communication. [Shows which political behaviors influence civic attitudes over time, and vice versa.]

Sprain, L., & Gastil, J. (2006). What Does It Mean to Deliberate? An Interpretative Account of the Norms and Rules of Deliberation Expressed by Jurors. Submitted to Communication Monographs. [Shows how jurors conceptualize and experience deliberation, using jurors' own written accounts of their jury service.]

Additional Writings

Consolini, P. (1992). Learning by doing justice: Private jury service and political attitudes. Doctoral dissertation, University of California at Berkeley. [This landmark study, funded by the National Science Foundation, helped to close the gaps between jury research, political participation research, and studies of the relationship between legal institutions and political attitudes.]

Drafts In Progress

We intend to publish our main results in a book in 2008, tentatively titled Freedom In Our Hands: Juries, Deliberative Democracy, and Civic Engagement.

Additional writing projects already underway include the following:

Simmons, C., Weiser, P., & Gastil, J. (2006). Toqueville’s Jury: A modern reassessment of the civic role of jury service in the United States. [Shows that the details of jurors' subjective impressions of their jury service predict a variety of subsequent changes in their political/civic attitudes and behaviors.]


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