Young Adults as a Cognizable Group in Jury Selection

In support of its thesis, this Article presents what the literature has failed to provide: a comprehensive analysis of the concept of cognizability and empirical data. Part I traces the history of cognizability; identifies the sources of the cross-sectional right; and defines the criteria of cognizability, drawing special attention to the interests which a designation of cognizability protects. Part I also discusses the different approaches courts have taken to cognizability and suggests several factors which may explain the many treatments of the concept.

Part II reviews the case law concerning the cognizability of young adults in particular. That Part also examines the traditional criteria of cognizability.

Part III demonstrates that young adults satisfy the criteria of cognizability. The practical problem of defining age groups is addressed and the importance of age in determining general attitudes and outlook is explained. Since part of the rationale for broad representation on jury panels is that the quality of deliberation and the results it produces are at stake, this Article offers evidence directly related to that question-the results of a public-opinion survey of attitudes on matters of signal importance to jury service. Analysis of the data reveals significant and consistent differences in attitudes among persons in different age groups on criminal justice issues in general and on petit and grand jury service in particular. The greatest disparities in attitudes are between the youngest (18-30) and the oldest (61-75) age groups, and both groups are remarkably cohesive in their attitudes toward the issues probed. (Not surprisingly, older people are much more likely to be biased against the young than are younger people.) Finally, the data show that the correlations between attitudes and age are significantly stronger than the correlations between attitudes and race, sex, occupation, or income. Since racial groups, women, and, on occasion, occupational and income groups have been held cognizable, the data strongly suggest that young adults are cognizable a fortiori.