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"Behind Closed Doors": Assisting Jurors With their Deliberations

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 83 Issue: 2 Dated: September-October 1999 Pages: 52-57
Robert G. Boatright; Beth Murphy
Date Published
6 pages
The American Judicature Society has prepared a guidebook titled "Behind Closed Doors: A Guide for Jury Deliberations" to help jurors organize their deliberations and better fulfill their responsibilities.
The guidebook incorporates the suggestions of jurors, judges, attorneys, and social scientists. It is designed not to be intrusive; instead, it aims to guide jury deliberations toward more fruitful discussions without posing the threat of bias in the jury or imposing any particular blueprint on jury deliberations. The guidebook covers the following areas: (1) getting started and getting organized, (2) selecting the presiding juror, (3) discussing the evidence and the law, (4) voting, (5) getting assistance from the court, (6) the verdict, and (7) the period after the jury duty is over. The guidebook was tested in 12 trials by means of surveys of jurors, attorneys, and judges. The same types of groups were surveyed in 14 other trials in which the guidebook was not used. Almost all the jurors who used the guidebook said they appreciated having it at hand. In addition, jurors using the guidebook were more likely to report that they developed formal procedures for handling juror disagreements than were jurors without the guidebook. Moreover, jurors using the guidebook devised a similar and less obvious means of organizing discussions in general. Illustrations and footnotes