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A Dutiful Voice: Justice in the Distribution of Jury Service


  • I am grateful to Karen Cook, Karla Fischer, Allen Lind, Susan Roth, and especially Neil Vidmar for assistance in the development and execution of this project. Thanks also go to Shari S. Diamond, Leslie Ellis, Herbert Kritzer, Beth Murphy, Janice Nadler, Laura Beth Nielsen, Joseph Sanders, John Sides, and the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable help with previous drafts. All errors and omissions are entirely my own. Finally, although not responsible for approving or funding this project, I am grateful to support from the American Bar Foundation, which afforded protected time for writing up the study's results.

Please direct correspondence to Mary R. Rose, Department of Sociology, 1 University Station, A1700, Austin, TX 78712-1088; e-mail:


Jury service in the United States is both compulsory and yet distributed to some but not others in a nonsystematic way. Concerns about unfairness in this distribution system have led to legal changes; however, there is still little empirical information on how jurors view the jury selection process. This study considers jury selection in terms of participants' perceptions of procedural and distributive justice. I argue that justice in this setting is related to areas of conflict between the decision maker and the prospective jurors, especially over privacy protection, despite strong rhetoric that jurors minimize their own preferences and rights in this setting. Data from interviews of 194 formerly excused and selected jurors support this contention.