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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 157884 Find in a Library
Title: Improving Jury Comprehension in Criminal and Civil Trials
Author(s): R MacCoun
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Rand Corporation
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
Publication Number: CT-136
Sale Source: Rand Corporation
1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Seven proposals for improving juror performance in civil cases are evaluated: (1) revised jury instructions, (2) juror note taking, (3) question asking, (4) juror discussion during trial, (5) minimum education requirements, (6) complexity requirements, and (7) guidance in determining awards.
Abstract: Research suggests that improving jury instructions, allowing note taking, and allowing jurors to ask questions can significantly improve juror performance, while helping reduce juror frustration. However, further research is needed on the issue of tailoring jury instructions to the facts of cases. Allowing jurors to discuss cases during trials should result in jurors' prematurely adopting the same shared biases before hearing all the evidence, undermining some of the benefits of post-trial deliberation. It not clear that minimum education requirements and complexity limits would be beneficial. Finally, caution is needed regarding attempts to influence jury awards, because a failure to understand how jurors compute damages can lead to unintended consequences. Footnotes and appended list of criteria for evaluating the jury system.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Civil proceedings; Court reform; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions
Note: Written statement to the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, July 27, 1995
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