Rebirth of Reason

Favorite EditSanction this itemJudging the Jury by Valerie P. Hans
Sanctions: 3
Sanctions: 3
Judging the Jury
Also by: Neil Vidmar and Hans Zeisel

I ran into this book by chance at a used book sale.  It ended up being really interesting.  The authors have taken a scientific approach to the analysis of juries, and the results are not quite what you expect.

One example of a common belief they attack is the view that jury selection is a science.  Although most lawyers believe they know the best way to pick a jury to get a particular verdict, the evidence doesn't back them up.  The theory is that lawyers only count the cases they win when testing their jury selection methods. If they loose, they usually ignore it, blaming an impossible to win case.  Instead of taking the word of the lawyers, the authors referred to actual experiments where shadow juries were picked, listened to the same evidence, and came to their own conclusions.  By approaching it from a scientific point of view, they question a lot of assumptions about juries.

The book also does some analysis of how useful juries are.  They show that juries and judges often agree on an outcome, and sometimes disagree.  They explore explanations of the disagreements.  They discuss how juries go about determining a verdict, and how swayed they are by certain kinds of arguments.   It also discusses jury nullification, theory and practice.

There was, if I remember right, one gratuitous attack on Objectivists in the book.  They gave an example of a girl on a jury who was eager to find the defendant guilty allegedly because of her ideological views.  It was a minor incident, though.

If you're interested in the jury system, and how well it works in practice, this book will interest you. 
Added by Joseph Rowlands
on 4/12/2004, 12:10pm

Discuss this Book (0 messages) Buy this book at Amazon.com