59 Judicature 478 (1975-1976)
Jury Confusion: A Threat to Justice

handle is hein.journals/judica59 and id is 480 raw text is: Jury
confusion:
A threat to justice
by David U. Strawn and Raymond W. Buchanan
Fifty per cent of Florida jurors studied thought
it was up to the defendant to prove his innocence.

Does the American trial jury know what
it's doing? Does it actually understand the
laws it is expected to apply? What if it
doesn't know, and regularly produces re-
sults which are unlawful?
These concerns prompted a study now
being conducted under our direction at
Florida Technological University. In the
past two decades, the capacities of science
for reliably testing communication process-
es have been enormously expanded. We
think it is now possible to learn in detail the
strengths and weaknesses of our jury system
in order to assure its continued maturation.
Countries with an Anglo-Saxon heritage
have relied for centuries upon juries to law-
fully resolve disputes between persons, and
between persons and the state. The institu-
478 Judicature/Volume 59, Number 10/May, 1976

tion has been extremely important. The bar-
ons of Runnymede even insisted on the
inclusion of a jury trial provision in the
Magna Carta over 760 years ago.
Countries using juries have always made a
number of assumptions about them. In our
century, we continue to assume that a jury
can be adequately informed of the law's
requirements by oral instructions from a
judge. Obviously, the jury needs to know the
points of law in order to be able to determine
whether the facts justify one verdict or an-
other. Ideally, strict adherence to legal con-
cepts prevents a trial jury from producing a
capricious, unpredictable result. Uncompre-
hending juries may resolve conflicts in many
cases on uncertain bases. It is possible that
many hung juries result from a lack of com-

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