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Having declared trial by jury a fundamental right in Duncan v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court began to take a closer look at some of the particular judicial rules that differed from state to state, such as jury size. In Williams v. Florida, the Court found that the traditional twelve-person jury was not in fact a legal necessity; a six-person jury, but no smaller, would pass constitutional muster. As Randolph N. Jonakait, a professor of law at New York Law School, explains, this finding overturned a previous ruling, in Thompson v. Utah, holding that citizens were entitled to a common law jury of twelve members, at least in federal court. Drawing on a number of studies, as well as his own experience as a lawyer for the New York City Legal Aid Society, Jonakait disputes the Court's finding that size is not especially significant to jury fairness. For Jonakait, twelve-person juries are fairer, more likely to contain minority members, and less inconsistent than smaller juries.


The Supreme Court Allows Smaller Juries, Chapter 2(2) in The Right to a Trial by Jury at 66-71 (R.K. Winters, ed., Greenhaven Press, 2005).