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jury box courtroom

Although juries are often criticized for reaching irrational decisions, multiple studies from jury consultants, sociologists and psychologists find that juries excel at observing and understanding the facts. The jurors see everything in the courtroom because they have nothing else to do but observe the scene before them. So why are juries criticized—as in the O.J. Simpson case—for errant decisions? Capable trial lawyers and judges can honestly disagree over the competence of juries. Judge Jack Weinstein reportedly believes juries are wonderful and intelligent. Many experienced trial lawyers and judges are not so convinced. Although I cannot resolve the great debates of whether juries are good or bad, the purpose of this article is to address: (1) some conceptions and misconceptions about juries; (2) what studies show juries are good at; and (3) where lawyers and judges fail, and how they can work better.

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