Jury Competence

Many observers praise the abilities of juries in making decisions in both criminal and civil cases. Others, however, criticize the competence of juries, arguing that juries are not effective legal decision makers. Psychologists have conducted a variety of studies to evaluate how juries make decisions, using simulation and field experiments, archival data, and interviews of jurors and judges. Overall, juries show a relatively high degree of competence—jurors take their decision-making tasks seriously, understand the nature of the adversary process, attempt to make decisions that achieve many (sometimes conflicting) goals simultaneously, and perform at a level that is similar to that of judges. However, there are clear areas in which jury performance could be improved, and a variety of procedural mechanisms have been developed to assist ...

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