U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Assessing the Competencies of Juries

NCJ Number
S D Penrod; B L Cutler
Date Published
17 pages
Two bodies of empirical research into jury decisionmaking and competence are reviewed. The first examined the relationships between juror attitudes, demographic, and attitudinal characteristics to decisionmaking. The second examined assumptions about the nature and quality of decisionmaking and the effects of legal processes on it.
Social, scientific, and psychological research indicates that juror attitudes and dispositional factors are related to verdict preferences; but these relationships typically are not strong and probably depend on the particular case and location of the trial. The other body of research has provided information on the problems jurors confront when applying legal instructions and evaluating evidence (e.g., using probabilistic information and eyewitness identifications). Research also has identified procedural domains, such as enjoinder and pretrial publicity effects, in which assumptions about juror behavior can be seriously questioned. While scientists are becoming increasingly involved in judicial processes, little of the research has yet found its way into the courts, with the exception of the use of pretrial surveys in motions to change venue and select jurors and a movement toward more simplified jury instructions. 111 references.