Anatomy of a Jury, by Seymour Wishman
Seymour Wishman was a former criminal lawyer who practiced as both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer in the United States legal system. Wishman is also the author of the novel "Nothing Personal," a memoir "Confessions of a Criminal Lawyer," and "Anatomy of a Jury." In his third book, "Anatomy of a Jury," Wishman writes about the United States criminal system and how those who are involved, participate. His purpose of writing this book was to tell others, mostly those who have little understanding of the legal system, how each position has a specific role and that the Jury process and purpose is much greater than it seems. The average American is called to serve their civil duty at random, and are to put all personal opinions on all matters aside and decide the fate of someone else. In his preface he states, "Juries have fascinated me not only for what they reveal about our idea of justice, but for what they tell us about ourselves" (p. viii). People perceives things differently from one another and in this book Wishman describes how these different perceptions, as well as manipulations in the court affect the outcome of a trial.
The case he speaks of in the book takes place in the early 1980s; the verdict of a black male Leander Rafshoon accused of raping and murdering a wealthy white woman, Carolyn Collins, is to be decided by a randomly chosen group of twelve men and women. Wishman organizes the book into four parts, each part describing a different stage in the process of a trial jury. The first part of the book is called "Who Shall Judge Me?" and here Wishman speaks of the beginnings of a Jury and how its role in the jury system became what it is today. In the Sixth Amendment it states all are given the right to a speedy and fair trial; including a right to a jury. Duncan vs. Louisiana is mentioned by Wishman and in this case it was decided that the right to a jury will be accepted in all criminal cases. In this section, the potential jurors are also introduced as well as the prosecutor and defense lawyer. The descriptions of each juror show the differences in people and how lifestyles can affect the outcome of a trial. Maureen Whalen, a sixty-eight year old woman with a hearing problem, was a potential juror for this case. She grew up in a house that her father had built years ago but was thinking about leaving the neighborhood because of "all the blacks moving in and everything" and she wanted to move into an apartment in a "clean, safe neighborhood." This description of her alone gives an understanding of the potential problems of a jury and the idea of a "random selection." Maureen and he thoughts of the black community as well as her hearing deficiency can lead to a unjust verdict.
The second part of the book is called "Those Chosen to Judge;" this section speaks solely on the voir dire part of the jury selection process. From this section, the readers, including myself, learn that lawy...