Other Issues Concerning the Jury

In addition to problems ofjury selection, there are other important issues concerning juries (Brooks, 2009; Prentice and Koehler, 2003).

The first is whether juries do, in fact, decide cases according to the facts or, instead, allow nonlegal matters to affect their decisions. A classic study by Harry Kalven and Hans

Zeisel (1966) concluded that juries can be trusted to take their role seriously. Kalven and Zeisel examined the percentage of cases in which the judges and juries involved in the same case agreed as to the appropriate verdict. The researchers found a high degree of agreement between judge and jury—approximately 75%. When juries did reach a different verdict, judges told the researchers that their jury’s verdict was still reasonable in view of the evidence. Other research supports Kalven and Zeisel’s early conclusion that juries competently decide cases, with data from hundreds of jury trials and jury simulations supporting this conclusion (Hans and Vidmar, 1986). Another issue deals with the question of representativeness of the jury. Potential jurors are typically drawn from voter registration lists or driver’s license records. Studies show, however, that these sources are not necessarily representative of the various ethnic, social, and economic groups in the community (Forman, 2004; Israel, 1998), as the urban poor, for example, are less likely to vote or to have driver’s licenses. Therefore, fewer are located and called for jury duty. People with jobs or family responsibilities are also often able to “get out” ofjury duty. As a result, jury panels are more likely to be composed of people who have the time (such as retired persons) or can (or want to) take time off from their places of employment.

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