Online Reading Groups
FIJA invites you to join fellow friends of liberty in learning more about the protective role of the jury and jurors' right of conscientious acquittal through virtual reading groups we are hosting.
FIJA will provide a facilitator to guide discussion on the reading, engage participants with probing questions about the material, aid in the use of the meeting platform, and keep the conversation tone respectful. Each session lasts 60-75 minutes and groups meet once a week for 3-4 weeks. We'll send you instructions before and provide a simple walkthrough of the Zoom platform at the start of the first session.
Selections for FIJA's Virtual Reading Groups will come from a variety of media in the field of criminal justice, focusing on the protective role of juries and the consequences of their eroded authority or absence in modern and historic contexts.
You will need a device on which you can listen and speak in a Zoom meeting and a good internet connection. Video participation is encouraged but not required.
FIJA charges no participation fee. At the end of each reading group, participants who attended all sessions will be entered in a drawing for a gift from FIJA.
Both long-time jury rights enthusiasts and those newly learning about the protective role of the jury will find the groups engaging and enlightening. We invite you to bring your curiosity, knowledge, and experience to the conversation, but you do NOT need to be an expert on the topics being covered in order to enjoy and benefit from the experience!
April/May 2021 Group
April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13
8:30 pm Eastern/7:30 pm Central/6:30 pm Mountain/5:30 pm Pacific
(If there is interest and a large enough group, we may consider splitting into two groups with one scheduled on the weekends.)
Our April/May discussion will cover the The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries by Suja Thomas. Suja Thomas is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois. Her research focuses on the criminal jury, civil jury, grand jury, civil procedure, and employment law.
Criminal, civil, and grand juries have disappeared from the American legal system. Over time, despite their significant presence in the Constitution, juries have been robbed of their power by the federal government and the states. For example, leveraging harsher criminal penalties, executive officials have forced criminal defendants into plea bargains, eliminating juries. Capping money awards, legislatures have stripped juries of their power to fix damages. Ordering summary judgment, judges dispose of civil cases without sending them to a jury. This is not what the founders intended. Examining the Constitution’s text and historical sources, the book explores how the jury’s authority has been taken and how it can be restored to its rightful, co-equal position as a “branch” of government.
Get the Book
The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries by Suja Thomas is available for purchase from:
- Cambridge University Press, in hardcover, paperback, or eBook formats,
- Amazon, in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle formats,
- Barnes and Noble, in paperback,
- and other book sellers
July/August 2021 Group
Our July/August discussion will cover Justice before the Law by Michael Huemer. Michael Huemer is a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. Her research focuses on the criminal jury, civil jury, grand jury, civil procedure, and employment law.
America’s legal system harbors serious, widespread injustices. Many defendants are sent to prison for nonviolent offenses, including many victimless crimes. Convicts often serve draconian sentences in crowded prisons rife with abuse. Almost all defendants are convicted without trial because prosecutors threaten defendants with drastically higher sentences if they request a trial. Most Americans are terrified of encountering any kind of legal trouble, knowing that both civil and criminal courts are extremely slow, unreliable, and expensive to use. This book explores the largest injustices in the legal system and what can be done about them. Besides proposing institutional reforms, the author argues that prosecutors, judges, lawyers, and jury members ought to place justice before the law–for example, by refusing to enforce unjust laws or impose unjust sentences.
Get the Book
Justice before the Law by Michael Huemer is available from:
We will open registration for this group after the April/May group is concluded.
Upcoming Books to Be Scheduled
- Twenty Million Angry Men: The Case for Including Convicted Felons in Our Jury System by James M. Binnall
- Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life by Sonali Chakravarti
Past Reading Groups
February 21, February 28, March 7
8:30-9:30 pm Eastern/7:30-8:30 pm Central/6:30-7:30 pm Mountain/5:30-6:30 pm Pacific
Our February group will discuss Injustice for All: How Financial Incentives Corrupted and Can Fix the US Criminal Justice System by Chris Surprenant and Jason Brennan. Chris Surprenant is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Orleans and is the founding director of the Urban Entrepreneurship and Policy Institute. Jason Brennan is the Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University.
In this book, the authors examine the financial incentives that drive the American criminal legal system to outcomes that are all too often unjust and offer several proposals for changing those incentives to achieve more just outcomes. Our discussion of this book will focus primarily on the criminal jury system and other elements of the legal system that affect it.
Get the Book
Injustice for All: How Financial Incentives Corrupted and Can Fix the US Criminal Justice System is available for purchase from:
- Amazon.com, in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle formats
- Barnes and Noble, in paperback or NOOK formats
- and other book sellers