Chapters

How the Jury Reaches Its Verdict

The concept of majority rule may work in elections but it is inapplicable when it comes to jury verdicts. If a simple majority was sufficient, the jury would simply shuffle in to the jury room, take a quick vote, shuffle out, and declare the side with the greater numbers the winner. We require far more. We require that our jurors deliberate. To insure this happens, we intentionally place a major hurdle in the jury’s way—any verdict must be unanimous (or at least a super-majority in some jurisdictions).

Getting 12 people to agree on anything is not easy. My family of five cannot even agree where to go for dinner. But think about it, we insist that 12 diverse lay persons who likely never met each other prior to the trial collectively learn all there is to learn about a complex case, analyze the facts, apply those facts to the law, and figure out a way that all of the jurors can agree who should win. To understand how this happens, you need to appreciate how a certain set of jurors build and maintain the coalition necessary for a unanimous verdict.

Chapters