Wanted: Angela Davis and a Jury of Her Peers

Political Theory 49 (3):380-402 (2021)
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Abstract

In 1972 Angela Davis stood trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder before a White jury. A professor of philosophy, a Communist, and a member of the Black Panther Party, she had no reason to believe that any of the jurors were her peers. Yet, after three days of deliberation, they returned a Not Guilty verdict on each of the counts. Through an analysis of the case, this essay argues for a new approach to peerhood that defines it as a combination of demographic similarities to the defendant and a worldview orientation of contestation and anticorruption that emerges from the jury’s function in the trial. Greater clarity on how these factors are important for peerhood provides insights into how jurors can best fulfill their role and what remedies are necessary to achieve a jury of one’s peers.

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