Judges and Juries: The Defense Case and Differences in Acquittal Rates
23 Pages Posted: 19 May 2008 Last revised: 30 Sep 2008
Date Written: May 16, 2008
Kalven and Zeisel's (1966) classic study, The American Jury, concluded that juries were "in revolt" from the law when they acquitted when judges would have convicted. Using data collected by the National Center for State Courts to examine jury decision making in four different communities, this article reexamines the question of the judge and jury's respective fidelity to the law and evidence by examining the influence on judge and jury of the defendant's evidence, his criminal record, and his reason for refusing to plead. No data can tell us definitively whether the judge is correct and the jury in error when they disagree, but the data analyzed in the present study can tell us whether the factors that move the jury and fail to move the judge are or are not consistent with the innocence of the accused.
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