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An Inside Look at Jury Decision-Making

NCJ Number
Judicial Officers' Bulletin Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: May 2000 Pages: 25-32
Warren Young; Neil Cameron; Yvette Tinsley
Date Published
May 2000
5 pages
This article summarizes some of the findings of a research project on jury decision-making.
The research project analyzed a sample of 48 trials. Many jurors who were interviewed expressed considerable ignorance about the role and nature of the jury and legal systems, had difficulty adapting to the process of the trial and their task as jurors, and considered insufficient the information they had received about factual issues and relevant law. Jurors’ deliberations fell into three broad categories: immediate formal or informal poll; brief and fairly cursory discussion of the issues or applicable law, followed rapidly by a poll; and relatively full discussion of the evidence before taking a poll. Jury decision-making was characterized by a very high level of conscientiousness. Even so, in 35 of the 48 trials, there were widespread misunderstandings about aspects of the law that persisted through to, and significantly influenced, jury deliberations. The article discusses the influence, if any, of external material; jury disagreement and uncertainty; and jury verdicts and hung juries. Notes


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