Jury Decision Making: The State of the Science

Jury Decision Making: The State of the Science

Jury Decision Making: The State of the Science

Jury Decision Making: The State of the Science

Synopsis

While jury decision making has received considerable attention from social scientists, there have been few efforts to systematically pull together all the pieces of this research. In Jury Decision Making, Dennis J. Devine examines over 50 years of research on juries and offers a "big picture" overview of the field.

The volume summarizes existing theories of jury decision making and identifies what we have learned about jury behavior, including the effects of specific courtroom practices, the nature of the trial, the characteristics of the participants, and the evidence itself. Making use of those foundations, Devine offers a new integrated theory of jury decision making that addresses both individual jurors and juries as a whole and discusses its ramifications for the courts.

Providing a unique combination of broad scope, extensive coverage of the empirical research conducted over the last half century, and theory advancement, this accessible and engaging volume offers "one-stop shopping" for scholars, students, legal professionals, and those who simply wish to better understand how well the jury system works.

Excerpt

“So, do you think there is anything we can know for certain?”

The question was directed at me by one of the prosecuting attorneys. We were in the midst of voir dire, and I happened to be one of the twelve persons seated in the jury box at the start of juror selection. Moments before, having looked over the responses on my juror information card, the D.A. had probably noticed that I was a professor, and his question likely reflected a concern that no amount of evidence presented by the state of Indiana would be sufficient to convince me of the defendant’s guilt. I don’t recall exactly what I said in response to his question about knowing anything with certainty, something along the lines of “maybe gravity.” Whatever it was, it did not get me kicked off the panel. I sat on a twelve-person jury that decided a case involving an SVF (Serious Violent Felon) charged with possession of a firearm. The evidence was entirely circumstantial—no one actually saw the defendant with a gun. According to the arresting officer, the defendant was chased into a house and challenged while coming out of a bedroom. He refused to show his hands, backed into the bedroom, closed the door, then came out a moment later with hands raised. A gun was found in the room, and the defense could not account for its presence. We ended up convicting, and the . . .

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