A Trial by Jury by D. Graham Burnett

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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 Trade Paperback edition.

About D. Graham Burnett

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D. Graham Burnett is professor of history and history of science at Princeton University, where he teaches in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, and directs graduate studies in the Program in History of Science. He is an editor at Cabinet magazine and the author of four books.
Published January 22, 2002 by Vintage. 208 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Crime, Professional & Technical, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Trial by Jury

The New York Times

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Graham Burnett served as foreman on one of the most contentious juries this side of ''12 Angry Men,'' and once the four days of deliberations were concluded he set out to do what so many former jurors dream about doing but never get around to: he wrote a book about his experience.

Sep 16 2001 | Read Full Review of A Trial by Jury

Publishers Weekly

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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 deliberati...

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AV Club

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An old joke proclaims that people aren't tried by a jury of their peers, but by 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. When historian D....

Apr 01 2017 | Read Full Review of A Trial by Jury

AV Club

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Burnett takes the readers through the morally complicated details of the case—a gay tryst gone wrong, during which the defendant claims he was defending himself against rape—and shows how his cohorts struggle with the idea that someone in the case should be punished for something, even if the leg...

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of A Trial by Jury


In A Trial by Jury, from his vantage point as jury foreman, Burnett chronicles the trial and judgment of Monte Milcray for stabbing Randolph Cuffee to death.

Apr 01 2017 | Read Full Review of A Trial by Jury

Chicago Tribune

Farrell (New York Review of Books $16.95) In this novel, a World War I veteran travels to Ireland to find his fiance and discovers a world of surprises.

Nov 03 2002 | Read Full Review of A Trial by Jury

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