Monday, February 28, 2011

Scientific Jury Selection

The Utility of Scientific Jury Selection

Still Murky After 30 Years

  1. Joel D. Lieberman

+Author Affiliations

  1. Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  1. Joel D. Lieberman, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 455009, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5009.


Many attorneys place considerable importance on the jury selection process. In order to more effectively screen potential jurors, attorneys involved in major litigation frequently hire jury selection consultants. Consultants use a variety of survey and observational approaches based on social science research techniques to conduct scientific jury selection (SJS). Over the past three decades, psychologists have engaged in research that has implications for evaluating the utility of SJS. In some cases, these research endeavors have examined the general relationship between background characteristics of research participants and their inclinations to either convict or acquit a defendant. In other cases, SJS techniques have been studied in actual trials, as well as mock trial simulations. In this article, I review these lines of research and conclude that while SJS may have some utility, methodological flaws associated with existing research prevent clear conclusions from being drawn. There is currently a strong need for high-quality evaluative research studies to be conducted on the SJS approach.

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