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NCJ Number: 68164 Find in a Library
Title: NO RIGHT NUMBER? SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH AND THE JURY-SIZE CASES
Journal: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW  Volume:54  Issue:5  Dated:(NOVEMBER 1979)  Pages:951-976
Author(s): P LERMACK
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: National Endowment for the Humanities
Washington, DC 20005
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE USE OF SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH IN JURY-SIZE CASES BY THE COURTS IS EVALUATED TO IDENTIFY FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE USEFULNESS OF EMPIRICAL STUDIES AS AIDS TO THE SOLUTION OF THE LEGAL PROBLEMS.
Abstract: THE SUPREME COURT, IN RULING THAT A 6-MEMBER JURY COULD BE USED IN STATE CRIMINAL TRIALS IN WILLIAMS V. FLORIDA, CITED SEVERAL THEORETICAL STUDIES ON SMALL-GROUP DECISIONMAKING AS SUPPORT FOR THE PREMISE THAT THE 12-MEMBER JURY IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE DEFENDANT THAN A JURY COMPOSED OF FEWER MEMBERS. AS A CONSEQUENCE, THE COURT'S DECISION LAUNCHED A SERIES OF JURY-RIGHTS STUDIES AND JURY-COSTS STUDIES. AN ANALYSIS OF THESE STUDIES SHOWS THAT THE JURY-RIGHTS STUDIES WERE INCONCLUSIVE; THEY HAD NOT DETERMINED WHETHER SMALLER JURIES WERE LESS PROTECTIVE OF DEFENDANTS' RIGHTS THAN THE TRADITIONAL 12-MEMBER JURY. AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND OF THE COURT'S DECISION IN WILLIAMS TO PLACE THE BURDEN OF PROOF ON CRITICS OF SMALLER JURIES AND THEIR FAILURE TO PROVE THE SMALLER JURY'S DEFICIENCIES, THE COURT WAS ASKED IN BALLEW V. GEORGIA WHETHER THE USE OF FIVE-MEMBER JURIES IN STATE MISDEMEANOR PROSECUTIONS VIOLATED THE SIXTH AMENDMENT. THE COURT JUSTIFIED A NEGATIVE DECISION BY CLAIMING THAT THE REDUCTION OF JURY SIZE FROM SIX TO FIVE WOULD (1) BE UNLIKELY TO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS, AND (2) PROBABLY DO HARM TO CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS IN THE ENJOYMENT OF THEIR SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS. HOWEVER, JURY RIGHTS STUDIES CITED IN THE MAJORITY OPINION DID NOT PROVIDE ANY SYSTEMATIC EVIDENCE ABOUT THE BEHAVIOR OF JURIES WITH FEWER THAN SIX MEMBERS. IT IS CONTENDED THAT FORMIDABLE METHODOLOGICAL AND FINANCIAL PROBLEMS MUST BE OVERCOME IN ORDER TO VALIDATE EMPIRICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON JURY SIZE. HOWEVER, EVEN IF THESE PROBLEMS WERE OVERCOME, THE QUESTION OF WHETHER DIFFERENT-SIZED JURIES PRESERVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO A JURY TRIAL IS A SOCIAL AND LEGAL QUESTION THAT CANNOT BE SETTLED BY EMPIRICAL DATA. IT IS CONCLUDED THAT THE COURTS CAN USE SOCIAL SCIENCE EVIDENCE PROPERLY ONLY BY COMMISSIONING SOCIAL SCIENTISTS TO CONDUCT APPROPRIATE STUDIES WHICH OBSERVE THE PRINCIPLES OF PROPER OPERATIONALIZATIONAL AND UNIFORM CUMULATIVE DATA. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED.
Index Term(s): Jury decisionmaking; Jury size changes
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