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Jury Decision Making

Jury Decision Making: The State of the Science

Dennis J. Devine
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 283
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  • Book Info
    Jury Decision Making
    Book Description:

    While jury decision making has received considerable attention from social scientists, there have been few efforts to systematically pull together all the pieces of this research. In Jury Decision Making, Dennis J. Devine examines over 50 years of research on juries and offers a "big picture" overview of the field. The volume summarizes existing theories of jury decision making and identifies what we have learned about jury behavior, including the effects of specific courtroom practices, the nature of the trial, the characteristics of the participants, and the evidence itself.Making use of those foundations, Devine offers a new integrated theory of jury decision making that addresses both individual jurors and juries as a whole and discusses its ramifications for the courts. Providing a unique combination of broad scope, extensive coverage of the empirical research conducted over the last half century, and theory advancement, this accessible and engaging volumeoffers "one-stop shopping" for scholars, students, legal professionals, and those who simply wish to better understand how well the jury system works.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-0498-1
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-4)

    “So, do you think there is anything we can know for certain?”

    The question was directed at me by one of the prosecuting attorneys. We were in the midst of voir dire, and I happened to be one of the twelve persons seated in the jury box at the start of juror selection. Moments before, having looked over the responses on my juror information card, the D.A. had probably noticed that I was a professor, and his question likely reflected a concern that no amount of evidence presented by the state of Indiana would be sufficient to convince me of...

  6. 1 The Lay of the Empirical Land
    (pp. 5-20)

    How many jury trials would you guess occur in the world each year? Ten thousand? One hundred thousand? A million, maybe? Well, no one knows for sure, but the number is certainly large. The first systematic attempt to estimate the number of annual jury trialsin the United Statesappears to have been made by researchers associated with the Chicago Jury Project, who tried to determine the number that occurred in 1955. Obtaining a precise tally proved much more difficult than expected, as some jurisdictions didn’t keep records, others didn’t keep good records, and still others didn’t respond to the...

  7. 2 Models of Juror and Jury Decision Making
    (pp. 21-40)

    As long as juries have existed, people have probably wondered how they make their decisions. In the short history of scientific study of juries, scholars have given this question a good deal of attention as well. Numerous theoretical models have been offered addressing how jurors reach their individual decisions about the appropriate verdict—whether the defendant should be convicted or the plaintiff awarded damages. These models differ along a variety of dimensions, with one of those being their focal level. Some models focus on how individual jurors reach their decisions, whereas others concentrate on how the jury as a whole...

  8. 3 Jury-Related Trial Practices
    (pp. 41-67)

    Across the various court systems in the United States, there is considerable variation in the practices and procedures used with juries. This includes how members of the jurisdiction are summoned for jury duty, what they are asked during voir dire, how many individuals will constitute a jury, what jurors can and cannot do during the trial, what level of consensus is needed for a verdict—and the list goes on. Several particular practices attracted the attention of social scientists in the wake of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s, and trial-related practices continue to garner steady attention...

  9. 4 Effects of Trial Context
    (pp. 68-90)

    A jury’s focal task is to reach decisions about guilt, liability, damages, and occasionally sentence. In most trials, the evidence presented at trial is likely to be a major (if not the primary) determinant of those decisions, but other variables will sometimes have an effect as well. Some of these arecontextualvariables associated with the trial but not part of the admissible evidence, including the type of charge (or claim) against the defendant, case-related information presented in the media before or during the trial, definitions of key legal terms, the verdict options available to the jury, and the values...

  10. 5 Trial Participant Characteristics
    (pp. 91-121)

    Juries are supposed to make decisions based on the evidence—not irrelevant characteristics of the people involved. A long-standing concern of legal scholars and interested observers is that juries do in fact base their decisions, at least at times, onwhois involved and what they are like. Social scientists have devoted a great deal of empirical attention to this possibility, but isolating the effect of specific participant characteristics is unfortunately not easy to do. Many participants are involved in every jury trial, and they each possess a variety of characteristics thatcouldaffect jury decisions. Specifically, the attributes of...

  11. 6 The Evidence
    (pp. 122-151)

    How much do juriesreallybase their decisions on the evidence? If there were one question that jury scholars could ask of a real-life Magic Eight Ball, it would probably be that. Fortunately, there are plenty of data available that address this issue. Although doubted by some legal critics and commentators, the strongest determinant of the jury’s ultimate decision in most cases is undoubtably the strength of evidence (SOE) against the defendant. In dozens of experimental studies with mock jurors, SOE has been systematically varied by providing, withholding, or altering the evidence presented to study participants. These manipulations typically have...

  12. 7 Deliberation
    (pp. 152-180)

    Most jury trials are not so lopsided that views of the “correct” verdict are shared by all jurors at trial’s end. Consensus must typically be forged through the deliberation process, which, reduced to its essence, involves one or more jurors changing their mind. This chapter reviews what has been learned about social influence in the context of deliberation.

    Social influencecan be viewed as a change in attitude, belief, or behavior triggered by the words, actions, or even mere presence of another individual. Change in underlying attitudes or beliefs has been called acceptance, persuasion, or internalization; behavioral change without accompanying...

  13. 8 An Integrative Multi-Level Theory of Jury Decision Making
    (pp. 181-210)

    The focus of the previous chapters was on identifying what we know about jury decision making. This chapter builds on those research findings in order to present an integrative Multi-Level theory that weaves together the threads from the empirical literature. As in any area of science, a good integrative theory of jury decision making should meet several criteria. First, it should incorporate the major empirical findings on jurors and juries. Second, it should be consistent with established conceptual models and theoretical frameworks, and not involve assumptions contrary to these perspectives without justifiable reason. Third, it should address decisions made by...

  14. 9 So What? Implications and Future Directions
    (pp. 211-232)

    It has been said that there is nothing so practical as a good theory. Among other things, theory can do two things that empirical findings cannot—explainwhysomething happens and predict when it will happen in the future. Over the last half-century, jury researchers have generated thousands of empirical studies, but much of the research has been driven by relatively narrow questions concerning whether some trial-related practice influences jury verdicts or not. We now have answers to many of those questions, but they are only pieces of a larger puzzle. After more than fifty years of research, it is...

    (pp. 233-262)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 263-271)
    (pp. 272-272)