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Jury Study

Jury Study

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Published by Jeff Wattrick
Study of jury behavior
Study of jury behavior

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Jeff Wattrick on Mar 06, 2013
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07/11/2013

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

THOMAS L. BRUNELL,
 
CHETAN DAVE,
 
NICHOLAS C. MORGAN
1
 
University of Texas at Dallas; University of Texas at Dallas; Collin College
We examine the time it takes to reach a verdict (deliberation time) using a unique dataset on the deliberation times of actual juries in criminal and civil cases. Duration model results indicate that case complexity, the unanimity of verdicts and the process of voir dire affect deliberation times, whereas jury size, prior juror experience and the gender composition of juries are not significant correlates. The results shed empirical light on an important correlate of trial accuracy using real-world data, in contrast to previous research that employed mock jury data.
1. INTRODUCTION
 The American jury system is firmly rooted in the Bill of Rights in the U.S.Constitution. The sixth amendment states that those accused of a crime by thestate are to have a public and speedy trial heard by a local jury.
2
When viewedthrough an economic lens, the objective behind such a jury-based judicial systemis to resolve a dispute by a group of peers engaging in collective decision-making.If juries actually achieve this objective, there are two dependent variables of interest. The first is the actual verdict agreed upon by a jury, that is, the
outcome 
of the collective decision-making process. The second variable is the process by  which a jury reaches a verdict, the
 proces
of collective decision-making itself. Onespecific aspect of the deliberation process is the time that it takes for a jury toreach a decision – this is the focus of our analysis in this paper. Specifically, we
1
We would like to thank Patrick Brandt, Valerie Hans, Magnus Lofstrom, and the anonymousreviewers for this journal for helpful comments.
2
Specifically, the sixth amendment stipulates that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accusedshall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
 
 
are interested in the length of time taken by real-world juries to render a verdict;and the determinants of the ‘time to verdict’ as a function of the characteristicsof the case at hand and the socio-demographic composition of the jury. Incontrast to previous research that has focused on mock juries, we examine a richdataset on 32 jury panels with over 6,000 jurors who served on over 1,000 trials. The dataset contains a number of case-specific and juror-specific variables inaddition to the time it takes a jury to render a verdict. Why are we interested in this aspect of the process of collective decision-making in legal environments?
3
Our answer is that shining the empiricalspotlight on deliberation times can affect judicial economy considerations,provide further insight into the more social sciences aspects of the law, andhelp further our understanding of the jury system beyond that which we find with mock juries. The judicial branch of government has an interest inefficiently marshaling the scarce resources allocated to it by the legislative andexecutive branches. Once a case has been accepted to be heard by the court,the judicial system has an interest in disposing of the cases in a timely mannersince each judge typically oversees a limited number of trials at any given time. Additionally, the court is concerned about the system costs imposed on trialparticipants, in particular the jurors. For instance, the foregone earnings of jurors may be considerable, e.g. low-income jurors who may not getcompensated from their employer for their service may suffer a cost higherthan high income jurors who do get compensated.Finally and crucially, an important motivation for studying deliberation timesis the quality of verdicts themselves (trial accuracy). While deliberation timemay be costly, it also has benefits in terms of improving the quality of the verdicts that a jury renders. A jury that is biased against (or in favor of) thedefendant is likely to make less effort to process information produced at trialand jump more quickly to judgment. Hence, deliberation time may be a usefulsignal of jury bias. Viewed in this light, several of the results of our analyseshave interesting welfare implications. For example, our result that deliberationtime is longer if the number of jurors dismissed during jury selection is greatersuggests jury selection might be effective at reducing jury bias. Indeed, during the jury selection stage, lawyers have the opportunity to select juries tominimize the biases against their clients.
4
In summary, we are interested in
3
See Mialon and Rubin (2008), Mialon and Mialon (2008), and Mialon (2005) for examples of the analysis of judicial environments from an economic/econometric perspective.
4
For a theoretical examination of the link between jury selection and jury bias, see Neilson and Winter (2000).
556 / REVIEW OF LAW AND ECONOMICS5:1, 2009Review of Law & Economics, © 2009 by bepress
 
 
informing such judicial economy by analyzing the determinants of how long ittakes a jury to reach a verdict.
5
 From an empirical legal point of view, much has been written on the subjectof individual juror perception of evidence as presented during trial, jurorcomprehension of the evidence, and the individual processing of information.
6
  The process of deliberation has also undergone scrutiny with several models of decision-making presented.
7
Much of this research has been conducted using mock juries. Since mock juries typically have built-in time constraints, they cannot be used as a measurement of actual jury time to a decision point. Devineet al.
(2007)
discuss another important aspect of deliberations, the notion of deliberation quality and its concomitant effect on verdicts. Our analysiscomplements these previous empirical legal findings. Further, Devine et al.
(2007)
provide compelling arguments and evidence in favor of analyzing actual versusmock juries. In the present analysis, data from actual juries are examined,mitigating the causal inference issues present in analyzing mock juries. Our mainresults suggest that 6-person juries are no quicker than 12-person juries; as casesbecome more complex and/or more severe, juries deliberate longer; non-unanimous decisions take longer to reach than unanimous ones and panels thatsaw many potential jurors excused during 
voir dire 
end up deliberating longerthan panels with fewer challenges. The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. Section 2 provides aliterature review that motivates in detail the various process questions that canbe asked of the data. In Section 3 the data are discussed followed by adiscussion of the empirical hypotheses. In Section 4 the empirical results arepresented and discussed, followed in Section 5 with concluding comments.
2. MOTIVATING LITERATURE
Given the difficulty of gathering data on or observing real juries, legal scholarsoften rely on mock juries to better understand jury behavior and the process by  which they reach (or fail to reach) a collective decision. Clearly, “using actualjuries provides the most appropriate source of research information becausejury simulations cannot fully enact important variables or environmentalfeatures found in actual trials decided by real juries”
(Diamond and Rose, 2005)
.More specifically with respect to the variable of interest in this paper,
5
Critics of the jury system contend that trial by jury is a costly relic, consuming vast humanresources and government expenditures, see Kassin and Wrightsman (1988) and Hans and Vidmar (2001).
6
See for example, Ellsworth (1989) and Strodtbeck et al. (1957).
7
See Winship (2000).
Factors Affecting the Length of Time a Jury Deliberates / 557http://www.bepress.com/rle/vol5/iss1/art23DOI: 10.2202/1555-5879.1334

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