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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69561 Find in a Library
Title: Application of the Theory of Communicative Competence in the Analysis of Juror's Decision-Making Structure
Journal: International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1980)  Pages:95-104
Author(s): W S Chung; D W Edwards; G A Roundtree
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study aimed to ascertain whether or not presuppositions or value-laden data affect a juror's decision-making process and to uncover commonsense ground during a court trial.
Abstract: It applied the theory of communicative competence in analyzing jurors' decisionmaking structure; a rational communicative form means that truth and moral values rest on a rational community formed by the attempt to find common ground among the actors through discursive and intersubjective rational discourses. Whether a jury uses a rational communicative structure or not was explored by examining the court transcript from a trial of a shoplifter and by conducting interviews with two jury members to determine whether the jurors' verdicts were based on universal truth and moral values. A hypothesis formulated was that if a juror's reasoning rested on truth and moral values, and yet the juror makes a decision at a level of instrumental or strategic form of rationality, then counter-productive factors may be influencing the jurors' decisions. Findings from the court transcript indicated that the defense attorney failed to explore the defendant's motivation for the act, the court trial was dominated both verbally and nonverbally by the prosecution, and the factual presentations from the seven witnesses against the defendant were reflections of one-dimensional reality data which consisted primarily of situational descriptions of the defendant's conduct. Also, an imbalance existed between interpretations of both hard and soft data. Jurors emphasized their intent to decide guilt or innocence based on 'fact' not 'supposition.' However, one juror lost sight of this basis for decisionmaking by changing his vote 'due to the lateness of the hour.' This raises the question of how to improve the jury's decision nature and structure qualitatively rather than depending only on majority votes. The jurors' decisions in the trial appeared to be incorrect, 'partialized,' strategical and instrumental. Their judgments reflected conformity to the sterotypical images of the majority and regard for the earned expectations of others. From the point of view of labeling theory, the dominant opinions did not necessarily reflect the true opinions of the majority. Ten references are provided.
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Code of ethics; Jury decisionmaking; Verdicts
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