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Statistical Information, Impact on Juries

Statistical information is increasingly likely to be presented in court. It may appear in civil cases (e.g., percentages of men and women employees in a gender discrimination case) or criminal cases (e.g., the defendant's blood type matches that of a sample found at the crime scene and that blood type is found in only 20% of the population). Can jurors understand that information on their own, or must they rely on experts to explain its meaning? Even if jurors correctly understand statistical evidence, how do they combine that evidence with other, nonquantitative evidence?

In contrast to other areas of juror understanding (e.g., juror beliefs about factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness identification), there is relatively little research directly answering these questions. Those studies can be broken ...

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