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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 199372 Find in a Library
Title: Are Hung Juries a Problem? Executive Summary
Author(s): Paula L. Hannaford-Agor J.D.; Valerie P. Hans Ph.D.; Nicole L. Mott Ph.D.; G. Thomas Munsterman M.S.E
Corporate Author: National Ctr for State Courts
United States of America
Date Published: September 2002
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: National Ctr for State Courts
Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Grant Number: 98-IJ-CX-0048
Sale Source: National Ctr for State Courts
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Dataset: DATASET 1
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the rate, causes, and some ways to reduce the number of hung juries.
Abstract: The study used three methodologies. First, the project team conducted a broad-based survey of Federal and State courts to document hung jury rates. Second, the project team selected 4 courts for an in-depth jurisdictional study of nearly 400 felony trails. Using surveys of judges, attorneys, and jurors, the project team examined case characteristics, interpersonal dynamics during jury deliberations, and juror demographics and attitudes. These variables were compared for cases in which the jury reached a verdict and cases in which the jury deadlocked on one or more charges. The third research methodology was a case study of 46 deadlocked cases from the in-depth jurisdictional study, so as to develop a taxonomy of reasons for jury deadlock. An analysis of State court data found that the average hung jury rate was 6.2 percent, but with significant variations among jurisdictions. Neither demographic compositions of the populations nor community characteristics such as crime rates were related to hung jury rates. The Federal hung jury rates in the 14 Federal circuits were much more uniform and lower than in State courts, averaging 2.5 percent for criminal trials from 1980 through 1997. Multiple approaches were used to explore the data to determine what differentiates a hung jury from one that reaches a verdict. Consistent themes of weak evidence, problematic deliberations, and jurors' perceptions of unfairness were present in hung juries. Although a hung jury may be an appropriate outcome when the evidence evenly supports the prosecution and defense, better pretrial decisions and trial preparation can reduce the rate of hung juries. If juries hang due to weak evidence, prosecutors should reassess charging policies and decisions regarding which cases are brought to trial. Efforts to provide jurors with tools to comprehend the evidence and process information more effectively may also reduce the incidence of juror confusion and resulting deadlock. Judicial guidance on how a jury should deliberate can also help prevent a hung jury. 7 notes
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Hung juries; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Jury research; NIJ grant-related documents
Note: For the full report, see NCJ-197523.
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