Contextualizing Jury Participation: Case-, Jury-, and Juror-Level Predictors of Participation in Jury Deliberations

56 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009  

Erin York Cornwell

Cornell University - Department of Sociology

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law

Date Written: July 30, 2009

Abstract

Fully participatory jury deliberations figure prominently in the idealized view of the American jury system, where balanced participation among diverse jurors leads to more accurate fact-finding and instills greater public confidence in the legal system. However, research more than 50 years ago indicated that jury-room interactions are shaped by social status, with upper-class men participating more than their lower-class and female counterparts. The effects of social status on juror participation have been examined only sporadically since then, and rarely with actual jurors. We utilize data from 2,306 criminal jurors serving on 311 juries in four different courts to consider whether – and in what conditions – participation in jury deliberations differs across social groups. Our results indicate the continuing importance of social status in structuring jury-room interactions, but also reveal some surprising patterns with respect to race and gender that depart from earlier research. We also find that contextual factors including location, case characteristics, and faction size shape the relationship between social status and participation. We conclude with a critical discussion of our results and urge other researchers to take into account contextual factors when examining how individual juror characteristics shape what happens inside the jury room.

Keywords: jury, social status

Suggested Citation

York Cornwell, Erin and Hans, Valerie P., Contextualizing Jury Participation: Case-, Jury-, and Juror-Level Predictors of Participation in Jury Deliberations (July 30, 2009). CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1441537 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1441537

Erin York Cornwell (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0095 (Phone)

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