Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1991


American jury, Jury studies, Law and social science research, Chicago Jury Project, Empirical studies of law, Judge-jury agreement rates


Criminal Procedure | Evidence | Judges | Law and Society | Legal Writing and Research | Litigation


The year 1991 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of Harry Kalven, Jr. and Hans Zeisel's classic work, The American Jury. Arguably one of the most important books in the field of law and social science, this research monograph began the modrn field of jury studies and deeply influenced contemporary understanding of the jury as an institution.

In this essay we assess the book from the vantage point of a quarter- century. First, we provide a historical backdrop by reviewing the activities of the University of Chicago's Jury Project that led to the publication of The American Jury. Then, for those readers who are not intimately familiar with it, we describe the research design and major findings of the book. After that, we turn to its initial-and mixed-review by legal scholars and social scientists. Next, an attempt is made to trace The American Jury's impact on social science research and its treatment in appellate opinions. We conclude with a call for replication of this significant research study and an overall assessment of the legacy of Kalven and Zeisel's volume.

Publication Citation

Published in: Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 16, no. 2 (Spring 1991).