Real Juries

Posted: 18 Oct 2010

Date Written: December 2005


The elaborate efforts of the legal system to control and channel jury behavior reveal a mistrust of an institution that also attracts extravagant praise. We look at the jury by examining research on real juries drawn from archival studies and post-trial surveys and interviews, as well as from the deliberations of real juries. We show how the methods used by courts to gather and select jurors affect the representativeness and legitimacy of the jury. We also examine the evidence underlying skepticism about jury verdicts and decision making, focusing on cases that pose special challenges to jurors, particularly those involving complex evidence, legal complexity, and the death penalty. We then consider how optimal jury trials can be achieved. Even twelve experienced judges, deliberating together, would probably not function well under the conditions we impose on the twelve inexperienced laymen [Judge Jerome Frank, Courts on Trial (1949), p. 120]. Juror #4 (discussing the testimony of an expert physician in a medical malpractice case): What I would like to have is 40 [specialists] and show them the [test results] and okay, get a survey and is this significant or is this not significant and would they have [done what the defendant did]? [Deliberating juror from the Arizona Filming Project ( Diamond et al. 2003 )]

Suggested Citation

Seidman Diamond, Shari and Rose, Mary R., Real Juries (December 2005). Annual Review of Law and Social Science (2005), Vol. 1, pp. 255-284, 2005, Available at SSRN: or

Shari Seidman Diamond (Contact Author)

Northwestern University, School of Law & American Bar Foundation ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-2040 (Phone)

Mary R. Rose

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Sociology ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-232-6336 (Phone)

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