Product liability trials are difficult for juries. They are long. They involve highly technical subjects, the testimony of conflicting “experts,” and what may or may not be scientific evidence. Jurors may be asked to consider and decide the feasibility of two or more alternative designs for a product with which they are unfamiliar.
Commentators have suggested several options to meet this challenge. Some have proposed scrapping the lay jury for a jury of technocrats or those with expertise in the field at issue, known as “special” or “blue ribbon” juries, in complex cases. A few have proposed that jurors meet certain educational qualifications for such trials. While there is merit to these ideas, there is an easier way to ensure that juries are competent to hear complex cases while preserving the traditions of our jury system: to ensure that people of all backgrounds have both an opportunity and obligation to serve on a jury. The collective wisdom of a truly representative jury would provide the foundation for hearing and deciding product liability cases in a fair and balanced way.
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