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Behind Closed Doors: A Resource Manual to Improve Jury Deliberations

NCJ Number
Beth Murphy; Robert G. Boatright
Date Published
57 pages
The American Judicature Society (AJS) constructed this guide to provide assistance to jurors as they begin their deliberations, recognizing that most court systems provide only general information to jurors about about how the legal process works.
The AJS determined that jurors are often uncertain about how best to select a presiding juror, resolve disputes, clear up confusion about testimony or evidence, interpret the law, and confront anxiety even after a verdict has been reached. The AJS began to develop the guide by asking a set of focus group participants, including jurors, jury experts, and judges, to identify what type of information jurors need to foster better deliberations and lower anxiety. The resulting guide was pilot tested and produced in final version. After the final version was published, the AJS surveyed judges, attorneys, and jurors to investigate the guide's use by jurors. The guide was effectively used by jurors, although it did not unduly diminish the freedom of jurors to organize discussions as they saw fit. Using the guide, jurors were able to achieve more highly organized discussions and dispute resolution methods. Guide sections focus on selecting the presiding juror, discussing the evidence and the law, voting, obtaining assistance from the court, reaching a verdict, and knowing what to do once jury duty is over. 64 endnotes and 5 tables