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Long jury trials

A study in which jurors in long (more than 20 days) and short (1 to 6 days) federal trials (albeit civil rather than criminal) were interviewed found a number of disquieting differences. Jurors in the long trials were substantially more likely to be retired or unemployed and substantially less likely to have a college education. Nearly three-fourths of the jurors in the lengthy trials said the evidence was �difficult� or �very difficult� to understand, compared to 30 percent who reported the same in short trials. Of course the length of the trial might be correlated with the complexity of the evidence, and the latter might be the befuddling force. But this would not adequately explain why twice as many jurors in long than in short trials reported their attention wandering during the presentation of evidence either �occasionally� or �quite a lot,� and why more than twice as many (amounting to almost half of all the jurors who were interviewed) found it difficult or very difficult to understand how they were supposed to reach a verdict. Joe S. Cecil et al., Jury Service in Lengthy Civil Trials 1, 9, 11�13, 28 (tab. 7), 33 (tab. 8) (Fed. Judic. Center 1987).

United States v. Warner (Posner, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc) (7th Cir. Oct. 25, 2007). Howard Bashman has a linkwrap of the coverage of the decision on the George Ryan case.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.