In all criminal cases – not necessarily all civil cases – the defendant has the constitutional right to have a jury of their peers at trial (note that “peers” often means citizens, See Citizen; also note that a blue ribbon jury would violate this right). This right can be found in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution where it states, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” See Impartial Jury. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that a jury’s verdict is not tainted by biases that jurors may harbor before being presented with the evidence of the particular case. Readily recognized biases include gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. To exclude potentially biased jurors, either party to the suit may use a peremptory challenge during the jury selection process.
Jury of one’s peers is somewhat similar to the expression “judgement of his peers” which simply means a jury trial and comes from the Magna Carta.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]