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NCJ Number: 64284 Find in a Library
Title: CASE FOR MAJORITY VERDICTS
Journal: TRIAL  Volume:15  Issue:12  Dated:(DECEMBER 1979)  Pages:23-25,29,47-48
Author(s): B GROFMAN
Corporate Author: Association of Trial Lawyers of America
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Association of Trial Lawyers of America

National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Grant Number: SOC 75-14091; SOC-77-24702
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: ARGUMENTS AGAINST MAJORITY JURY VERDICTS ARE COUNTERED IN THIS ARTICLE WHICH PROMOTES THE CONSTITUTIONALITY AND BENEFITS OF THE MAJORITY VERDICT.
Abstract: OPPONENTS OF THE MAJORITY JURY VERDICT REASON THAT THE CONVICTION RATE WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED, THE INNOCENT ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE WRONGFULLY CONVICTED, AND THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF JURY DELIBERATION AND DECISIONMAKING WILL BE IMPAIRED UNDER MAJORITY VERDICTS. IN THE KALVEN AND ZEISEL STUDY (1966) OF JURY VERDICTS, MAJORITY VERDICTS WOULD HAVE PRODUCED 65 PERCENT CONVICTIONS, 30 PERCENT ACQUITTALS, AND 4 PERCENT HUNG JURIES, COMPARED TO THE 63 PERCENT CONVICTIONS, 32 PERCENT ACQUITTALS, AND 5 PERCENT HUNG JURIES OBTAINED UNDER UNANIMOUS VERDICTS. IN THE SAME STUDY, LESS THAN 7 PERCENT OF THE TRIALS WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN A CHANGE FROM AN INNOCENT TO A GUILTY VERDICT HAD MAJORITY DECISIONS BEEN USED INSTEAD OF UNANIMITY. FURTHER, GELFAND AND SOLOMON'S STUDIES SHOW THAT THE LIKELIHOOD THAT A JURY WILL CONVICT THE GUILTY AND FREE THE INNOCENT CAN BE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED BY REDUCING VERDICT REQUIREMENTS FROM UNANIMITY TO SIMPLE MAJORITY. THE BELIEF THAT A MAJORITY JURY DECISION WOULD ELIMINATE MEANINGFUL JUROR DELIBERATION AFTER A MAJORITY WAS REACHED HAS BEEN SHOWN BY EMPIRICAL STUDIES TO BE UNFOUNDED. FURTHER, AN ASSURANCE OF ADEQUATE DELIBERATION COULD BE GAINED BY REQUIRING AN APPROPRIATE PERIOD OF JUROR DEBATE BEFORE TAKING THE FIRST JUROR POLL. A MAJORITY VERDICT WOULD ALSO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF HUNG JURIES, THUS AVOIDING THE COST OF RETRIALS, AND WOULD REDUCE JURY DELIBERATION TIME. TABULAR DATA AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Jury decisionmaking; Jury unanimity; Studies; Verdicts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64284

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