Blue ribbon jury

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Blue ribbon jury is sometimes used interchangeably with the term special jury, though it also refers to a specific type of special jury, originating at common law, comprised of specially qualified jurors. The jurors selected for blue ribbon juries were drawn from a special list, rather than the general jury pool. Most states authorized the use of blue ribbon juries for only particularly complex or exceptional cases. The practice sometimes drew scrutiny for creating juries disproportionately composed of social and economic elites. The question of whether blue ribbon juries were constitutional reached the United States Supreme Court in Fay v. New York, where the Court narrowly upheld New York’s then-existing blue ribbon jury statute. In his dissent though, Justice Murphy noted that the blue ribbon jury conflicts with the constitutional requirement that juries be impartially drawn from a cross-section of the community

Blue ribbon juries, as they were once used, are now obsolete. But the use of other types of special juries persists in some states. Delaware, for example, allows for special juries in complex civil cases.

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]