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Jury Selection Process - Essay Example

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Juries decide thousands of cases every year. Even though the majority of court cases are not settled by juries, predictions about juries influence decisions to pursue or avoid jury trials (Greene, Chopra, Kovera, Penrod, Rose, Schuller et al., 2002); therefore, the jury system maintains a central importance in American law.
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Download file to see previous pages (Kressel & Kressel, 2002) Since then it has experienced a growth spurt since its inception in the early 1970s. It has also received substantial publicity in the news media, e.g., for its use by the defense in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial in 1995. This relatively new field is controversial: questions exist about its effectiveness, its fairness and the fact that it is virtually unregulated. Evidence from academia largely indicates that scientific jury selection does no good, yet the market for such services continues to flourish. What methods do jury selection experts employ What are the bases for the controversy surrounding this "hot" field What, if any, solutions have been suggested to alleviate these concerns
In jury selection, social scientists gain prominence but jury consultancy remains controversial in both the legal and social scientific communities (Stolle, Robbenolt & Wiener, 1996). Trial consultants have relied on a variety of methods in jury selection, including "scientific statistical methodology, folklore, pops psychology [and] astrology" (Boudouris, 1993, p. 4). However, there is also the gut feel as remarked by O.J. Simpson's attorney Jo-Ellan Dimitrius. (Dimitrius & Mazzarella, 1998, p. xiii).

Traditional jury selection in most jurisdictions consists of three stages. The first stage involves the creation of a list of citizens eligible for jury duty, followed by selection of a sample of those persons to be summoned to court. The third stage occurs in court. In a process called voir dire, potential jurors are questioned either individually or in a group, sometimes by attorneys but often by the presiding judge. When jury selection experts are called in to help, they use a variety of techniques to assist in the selection of the jury that will be most favorable to, or, usually, least biased against, their side

The tools at a trial consultant's disposal include community surveys, focus groups, mock trials, pretrial investigations of prospective jurors, and voir dire assistance. The widespread use of these methods indicates that SJS experts rely to a greater extent on attitudes and values than on demographic predictors, such as race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, socio-economic status and occupation, as predictors in jury decision-making (Penrod, 1990). Sophisticated statistical techniques, including factor analysis and multiple regressions, are often used to make predictions about jury decision-making from survey data. (Strier, 1999, p. 96).

Trial consultants also frequently employ pretrial investigations of prospective jurors. This type of pretrial investigation takes two forms: community network modeling and surveillance. Community network modeling consists of contacting prospective jurors' coworkers or neighbors, or people in the community who are affiliated with the same school, church, or club as a prospective juror. Surveillance includes drive-by observations and photograph- taking of a prospective juro ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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