Jury of Her Peers

A Jury of Her Peers tells the story of two women who tacitly conspire to undermine the law. Their conspiracy protects a woman accused of strangling her sleeping husband, who the women suspect had abused his wife for years. Their suspicions about the abuse stem from their observations at the accused woman’s home, as they accompany the men – the local sheriff, the prosecutor, and the neighbor – who investigate the crime scene.

The men and women perceive two different crime scenes, draw different inferences from the evidence, and ultimately judge both the accused and “victim” in fundamentally different ways. But the women co-conspirators render their judgment in secret, taking the law into their own hands, choosing to hide “evidence” that the men might very well deem crucial for proving guilt.

Is our subversion of law or legal authority ever justified? If so, on what grounds?

How do societal customs, such as gender norms, influence and interact with our laws?

Do men and women see the law differently? Does the law treat them differently and, if so, how and why?

How do such differences contribute to or detract from fairness, reason, and justice?

What if we believe the legal system cannot achieve a just outcome? Should we then subvert or manipulate it to find justice? More bluntly, if the justice system privileges one perspective, say the male dominated outlook, are women justified in undermining legal process to achieve justice or protect one of their own?

To explore these and other questions, we read Susan Glaspell’s A Jury of Her Peers, which you’ll find online at:

http://www.learner.org/interactives/literature/story/fulltext.html.

We also explore the poem “The Rules of Evidence” by lawyer-poet Lee Robinson:

http://www.mortalcoil.com/leemrobinson/poems.htm.

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