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38 U. Chi. L. Rev. 710 (1970-1971)
And Then There Were None: The Diminution of the Federal Jury

handle is hein.journals/uclr38 and id is 722 raw text is: ... And Then There Were None: The Diminution
of the Federal Jury
Hans Zeiselt
Goneril: Hear me, my lord. What need you five-and-twenty?
ten? or five?
Regan: What need one?
King Lear, Act II, Scene IV
In a dramatic move sponsored by the Chief Justice of the United
States Supreme Court, seventeen of the federal district courts will
reduce the size of their civil juries from twelve members to six.1
Immediately following the Chief Justice's announcement, Representa-
tive William Lloyd Scott of Virginia introduced a bill in Congress
to provide for six-member juries in all federal trials, both civil and
criminal, except in cases involving capital offenses.2 On the state
level, the New Jersey Supreme Court called for an amendment to
the state constitution that would allow the legislature to reduce the
size of all juries and to end jury trials in civil cases.3 Moreover, at least
one of the federal district courts has already been experimenting with
six-member juries in criminal trials, albeit by encouraged agreement
between prosecution and defense.4
Juries with less than twelve members, of course, are not foreign to
our experience. Some state courts try small civil claims and minor
criminal cases before six-member juries;5 four states even try non-
t Professor of Law and Sociology, The University of Chicago.
1 C.D. Cal., D. Colo., D.D.C., M.D. Fla., N.D. Ill., S.D. Ill., N.D. Ind., S.D. Ind., D.
Kan., E.D. La., D. Minn., D.N.M., D. Ore., W.D. Pa., W.D. Tex., and D. Wyo. Two
district courts have made a reduction in the size of the jury optional-E.D. Pa. and
E.D.N.Y. Information available from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
2 H.R. 7800, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. (1971).
3 Information available from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
4 E.g., the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Id.
5 Minor cases include those civil and criminal cases before inferior courts, Ky. CONSr.
art. 248; MONT. CONST. art. III, § 23; OKLA. CONsr. art. II, § 19; W. VA. CONsr. art. III,
§ 13, and those civil actions involving small claims, IDA. CONsr. art. I, § 7; N.J. CONST.
art. I, § 9; see UTAH CONsr. art. I, § 10, which specifies eight jurors in all noncapital cases
before courts of general jurisdiction. See also constitutional provisions authorizing state
legislatures to pass laws limiting jury size to less than twelve persons (I) in all civil cases
before inferior courts, ALAsKA CoNST. art. I, § 16; ILL. CONST. art. II, § 5; N.D. CONsT. art
710

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