Jury duty eventually happens to everyone. It recently happened to Graham Burnett - a young historian and literary journalist. A TRIAL BY JURY is his riveting account of how performing this familiar civic duty turned into one of the most harrowing experiences of his life. The People of New York v. Monte Virginia Milcray had all the elements of being a sensational and disturbing trial: a body with multiple stab wounds found in a tiny New York apartment, intimations of cross-dressing, male prostitution, mistaken identity. But for Burnett, who was appointed the foreman, and the other eleven members of the jury, the four days and three nights it took to arrive at a verdict proved more traumatic still. During that time twelve overwrought strangers struggled for a verdict when they had no sure answers, remaining locked in the black box of the jury room all day and virtual prisoners in their hotel at night. Attempting to steer the jury through the ambiguities of the case, Burnett discovered for himself the terrifying power of the state and the agonies of trying to do justice within the inherent rigidities of law. Part true crime, part political treatise, part contemplation of right, wrong,
D. Graham Burnett is a historian of science and the author of MASTERS OF ALL THEY SURVEYED. He has taught at Yale and Columbia, and is currently assistant professor of history at Princeton.