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Hung Juries and Majority Verdicts

NCJ Number
P Salmelainen; R Bonney; D Weatherburn
Date Published
4 pages
Criminal justice personnel attending supreme and district court trials concluded from mid-October 1996 through June 1997 in New South Wales, Australia, completed questionnaires on issues relevant to whether majority verdicts should be introduced in that jurisdiction.
The issues included the proportion of jury trials that ended in a hung jury, whether juries were more likely to be hung after a long trial than after a short trial, whether juries were more likely to be hung after a sexual assault trial than after a trial for another offense, and the proportion of hung juries in which the vote was 11 to 1 or 10 to 2. The responses covered 343 trials involving 853 charges; these covered approximately 72 percent of the trials during that period. About 10 percent of the trials resulted in hung juries; the average duration of these trials was about 33 percent higher than that of other trials. Sexual assault cases did not produce a higher proportion of hung juries than other offenses, and 2.7 percent of the hung juries involved votes of 11 to 1 or 10 to 2. Findings indicated that, while the introduction of majority verdicts would probably produce some administrative benefits, in general they would be only modest. Tables, notes, and 5 references


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