Document Type


Publication Date



Juror attitudes, Death penalty, Capital sentencing, Capital punishment, Capital Jury Project, CJP, Future dangerousness, Simmons v. South Carolina


Applied Statistics | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure


Determining whether race, sex, or other juror characteristics influence how capital case jurors vote is difficult. Jurors tend to vote for death in more egregious cases and for life in less egregious cases no matter what their own characteristics. And a juror's personal characteristics may get lost in the process of deliberation because the final verdict reflects the jury's will, not the individual juror's. Controlling for the facts likely to influence a juror's verdict helps to isolate the influence of a juror's personal characteristics. Examining each juror's first sentencing vote reveals her own judgment before the majority works its will. Race, religion, and how strongly the juror believes death is the appropriate punishment for murder influence a capital juror's first vote, which usually determines the final vote. Because black jurors are rarely a majority of the jury's members, majority rule usually means white rule.

Publication Citation

Published in: Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 30, no. 2 (June 2001).