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, and mistaken identity. But for Graham Burnett - a young historian and literary journalist who had been appointed foreman on the Jury - it turned into one of the most harrowing experiences of his life. During the four days and three nights it took to arrive at a verdict the twelve overwrought strangers struggled to find any 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, and the power of words, A TRIAL BY JURY is a mesmerizing narrative of one man's encounter with crime and punishment.
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.
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