Accuracy of Verdicts under Different Jury Sizes and Voting Rules
14 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019 Last revised: 24 Mar 2020
Date Written: July 23, 2019
Juries are a fundamental element of the criminal justice system. In this paper, we model jury decision-making as a function of two institutional variables: jury size and voting requirement. We expose the critical interdependence of these two elements in minimizing the probabilities of wrongful convictions, of wrongful acquittals, and of hung juries. We find that the use of either large non-unanimous juries or small unanimous juries are alternative ways to maximize the accuracy of verdicts while preserving the functionality of juries. Our framework – which lends support to the elimination of the unanimity requirement in the presence of large juries – helps appraise U.S. Supreme Court decisions and state legal reforms that have transformed the structure of American juries.
Keywords: jury size, voting requirement, criminal trial
JEL Classification: K0, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation