1965 July 15

New York Abolishes Elite “Blue Ribbon” Juries

 

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed a bill on this day that abolished the practice of elite “blue ribbon” juries in the state. Passed in the 1930s, the old law allowed counties with populations of more than one million to create “special” juries composed of persons from high economic and educational levels.

The law was rarely used outside of New York City and had been opposed by bar associations, the state Democratic Party, and civil liberties groups. Blue ribbon juries, including grand juries, were an elitist approach to the administration of justice with a long tradition in American criminal justice.

Learn more about the constitutionality of “blue ribbon” juries: http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3501&context=jclc

Read about the history of juries: Dennis Hale, The Jury in America: Triumph and Decline (2016)

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