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The Results of Deliberation

Maggie Wittlin

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

June 22, 2015

15 University of New Hampshire Law Review (2016 Forthcoming)

When evaluating whether to sue, prosecute, settle, or plead, trial lawyers must predict the future — they need to estimate how likely they are to win a given case in a given jurisdiction. Social scientists have used mock juror studies to produce a vast body of literature showing how different variables influence juror decisionmaking. But few of these studies account for jury deliberation, so they present an impoverished picture of how these effects play out in trials and are of limited usefulness.

This Article helps lawyers better predict the future by presenting a novel computer model that extrapolates findings about jurors to juries, showing how variables of interest affect the decisions not only of individuals but also of deliberative bodies. The Article demonstrates the usefulness of the model by applying it to data from an empirical study of the factors that influence juror decisions in acquaintance rape cases. This application first elucidates a tension in criminal law: even if a substantial majority of jurors in a community would vote to convict a defendant, a majority of juries might still acquit. It also demonstrates that certain legal reforms will have a meaningful effect in some areas of the country but not others, suggesting that rape law reform should occur at a local, not national, level.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 66

Keywords: jury deliberation, cultural cognition, social influence, Monte Carlo, rape

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Date posted: June 15, 2011 ; Last revised: June 29, 2016

Suggested Citation

Wittlin, Maggie, The Results of Deliberation (June 22, 2015). 15 University of New Hampshire Law Review (2016 Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1865031 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1865031

Contact Information

Maggie Wittlin (Contact Author)
University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )
103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States
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