Reducing the Size of Juries

In recent years, court dockets have become increasingly congested. The resulting delays place a great burden both on civil litigants and on the criminally accused who often await trial for more than two years. In responding to this problem, jurists have focused on trial by jury and have typically suggested modifications of two types: either limiting access to juries by litigants, or increasing the efficiency of the juries themselves. Some critics have even contended that the anachronistic procedure of jury trials is such an undue burden on the judicial system that it should be abolished in the interest of efficient dispensation of justice. Most attempts at modification have been directed toward streamlining the jury process rather than further restricting the litigant’s opportunity for a jury trial. In this effort, several states have established provisions for reducing the number of jurors impaneled. The purpose of this article will be to analyze the effects of these reductions on the judicial system and to ascertain the potential impact on the process of reaching a verdict.