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Published in Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, vol. 6, issue 3 (September 2009).


Approximately 6 percent of criminal juries hang. But, how many dissenters carry the jury, hang the jury, or conform to the majority’s wishes? This article examines the formation of individual verdict preferences, the impact of deliberation, and the role of the dissenter using data from nearly 3,500 jurors who decided felony cases. Jurors were asked: “If it were entirely up to you as a one-person jury, what would your verdict have been in this case?” Over one-third of jurors, privately, would have voted against their jury’s decision. Analyses identify the characteristics of jurors who dissent, and distinguish dissenters who hang the jury from dissenters who acquiesce. Deliberation procedures, juror role expectations, their evidentiary views, and their sense of fairness affected the likelihood of dissent. Contrary to previous research, deliberations play a vital role in generating juror consensus and shed new light on the debate over the requirement that juries be unanimous in their verdict.

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jury, decision making, criminal, deliberations, verdict

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Criminal Law Commons