Judicial Decision-Making Analysis in John Peter Zenger’s Case

The account of the trial of John Peter Zenger depicts how freedom of expression in the United States was in the period of 1735. The trial made a landmark to the freedom of the press ever since the German immigrant printer was sued for publishing the seditious libels. In this case, the American jurors took a stalwart decision on the trial and made an independent verdict that led to the division of the colony and initiation of press freedom.

The group of New York jurors led by the most eloquent lawyer then, Andrew Hamilton, despised the sidelined judges of the complainant to make a verdict of the accused being “Not Guilty.” The complainant, Cosby, had accused the immigrant of tainting the political image of the authority by exposing the exploitation going on in the Philadelphian government.

Over time, Cosby who was the ruling governor had previously exercised his dictatorial acts on other multiple issues (Linder, 2001). Therefore, the findings of the jurors depicted the validity of the verdict and consideration of the whole case. As a result, the case indicates the manner in which the judicial decision-making process occurs.

The political arena of the government during the period was impartial and full of exploitation. During the trial, the two groups of judges that favored either side of the accused or the complainant had to consolidate their mindset to come up with the verdict. Despite the great influence of the governor during his reign, the jurors had to hold independent decisions to make the right verdict. Considering the case, the accused had not violated any stipulated law but it was just a spill out of government activities.

In this regard, there was growing tension within the public domain due to the manner of exploitation and extortion facilitated by Cosby. Therefore, the complainant had a series of troubles with the public and always sought to conceal the undertakings of the government (Stearns, 2000).

The verdict of the case was contrary to the expectation of the ruling elites. In this regard, the press had earned freedom and could display controversial undertakings of the government that did not merge with the law. From the political point of view, this case had a causal relationship with other cases that involved the press and the authority.

Since the case was an important landmark in the press, Cosby’s complaints were overruled and depicted the rights that citizens had over those in authority. In addition, the jurors considered the political conditions that would enhance equity and deliver the appropriate verdict (English & Sales, 2005).

The consideration of the public domain issues by the jurors served in their interest. Essentially, the public wished that their issues could be regarded in settling the case. Prior to the case, the public had observed the nature of exploitation imposed on them by the government. In addition, the citizens had observed how the government was influential with regard to court cases. In the minds of the public, the government would have maneuver through the case to victimize the accused.

On the contrary, the case verdict was fair and impartial. This is because it considered both parties involved in the case before settling on the decision. As a result, the case implied a sense of transparency and accountability had been incorporate in the US courts.

Similarly, the verdict had a lot of influence from the jurors. Based on the decision made, there was controversy between the jurors. One side of the jurors supported the accused while the others supported the complaint. In this case, both parties evaluate their independent findings before settling on the verdict. Generally, the verdict was right and transparent.


English, P. W., & Sales, B. D. (2005). More than the law: behavioral and social facts in Legal decision making. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Linder, D. (2001). Account of Zenger Trial. UMKC School of Law. Web.

Stearns, M. L. (2000). Constitutional process: a social choice analysis of Supreme Court decision making. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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