Discovering Justice Events

Trial by Jury: Does the American Jury System Bring About Justice?

November 14, 2022 

A trial by jury is extremely rare in the federal criminal justice system; in 2018, only 2% of federal criminal cases went to trial. This is the norm. But why?

Our panelists and audience members explored questions about the benefits and shortcomings of the system as it is today. They discussed and wrestled with this essential question: Does the American jury system bring about justice?


Honorable William G. Young

Judge Young is a Senior United States District Judge. President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Young to the Court in 1985 and he served as the Chief Judge from 1999-2005. Judge Young received his Bachelor’s and Law degrees from Harvard University. Judge Young assumed senior status in July of 2021.

Professor Dehlia Umunna

Umunna is a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. In addition, Umunna is the Faculty Deputy Director of the law school’s Criminal Justice Institute where she works with third-year law students in their representation of clients in criminal and juvenile proceedings in Massachusetts Courts, including the Supreme Judicial Court. Umunna also coaches the HLS National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy and the HLS Black Law Student Association Trial Teams. Before working at Harvard, Umunna was a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.

Miriam Conrad

For more than 15 years, Conrad was the Chief Federal Public Defender in Massachusetts. Before getting her law degree, Conrad received a degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. She later went on to get her law degree at Harvard Law School in 1987. After her clerkship with a federal judge, Conrad was a Massachusetts state public defender at the Committee for Public Counsel Services from 1988 to 1992. Conrad then joined the Federal Public Defender Office in Massachusetts in 1992.

Dustin Chao

Chao currently serves as the Chief of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts’ Public Corruption Unit. Upon graduating law school, he began his legal career practicing corporate law in New York and then overseas. In 2001, he joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and worked as an Assistant District Attorney. In 2007, he joined the Newark U.S. Attorney’s Office before moving to Boston for his current position.

Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.