Lay participation in Argentinean criminal trials, even if prescribed by the 1853 Argentine Constitution, was not established in the country until 2004, when the province of Cordoba created a mixed court to deal with cases of aberrant crimes and corruption.

This article describes the initial experience with mixed courts in the metropolitan area of Great Cordoba, and in small cities of the province, to depict the impact of different social contexts on lay participation. The support for citizen participation in legal decision making, the responses to the introduction of the new mixed courts, and jury-judge agreement rates are some of the issues compared. The analysis uses data obtained in the sentences pronounced in the period 2005–2009, and interviews of lawyers, magistrates, and common citizens who served as jurors for trials conducted both in metropolitan and town areas. Qualitative material gathered in the interviews is also used to explore the effect that lay participation in legal decision making has on the construction of an identity as citizens.