Empirical Analysis of Juries in Tort Cases
Shari Seidman Diamond
Northwestern University, School of Law & American Bar Foundation
Jessica M. Salerno
Arizona State University (ASU); American Bar Association
November 6, 2012
Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts, J. Arlen, ed., Forthcoming
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 12-19
Juries attract both stiff criticism and unqualified praise. Here, we examine how the American juries actually behave in tort cases, based on archival research, post-trial interviews with jurors, experiments with real and simulated juries, observations of real jury deliberations, and surveys of judges and attorneys. We compare the external perspective of economic theory and the internal perspective of jurors and examine how the difference is reflected in jury behavior. Analyzing the key topics associated with charges of jury incompetence and bias in tort cases (i.e., decisions on liability; expert testimony; corporate defendants; separating decisions on liability and damages; assessment of compensatory damages; decisions on punitive damages; and comprehension and application of the law), we find that although it is unclear how well jurors act as risk managers, a role they are not instructed to play in the standard negligence case, juries in tort cases cope quite well with the conflicting evidence they are asked to judge. Finally, we analyze which aspects of less than optimal jury performance constitute insurmountable obstacles and which limitations can be overcome.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Keywords: juries, psychology
JEL Classification: K1, K19, K49
Date posted: November 7, 2012
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