Jury and the Defense of Insanity

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Thirty years after it was first published, the issues raised in The Jury and the Defense of Insanity remain pertinent. Rita James Simon examines how motivated and competent juries are, how well jurors understand and follow judges' instructions, their understand­ing of expert testimony, and the extent to which their own backgrounds and experiences influence their decisions. Simon provides a rare opportunity to observe how jurors go about the process of deliberating and reaching a verdict by following them into the...

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Overview

Thirty years after it was first published, the issues raised in The Jury and the Defense of Insanity remain pertinent. Rita James Simon examines how motivated and competent juries are, how well jurors understand and follow judges' instructions, their understand­ing of expert testimony, and the extent to which their own backgrounds and experiences influence their decisions. Simon provides a rare opportunity to observe how jurors go about the process of deliberating and reaching a verdict by following them into the jury room and recording their deliberations. This pathbreaking study of jury room behavior provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of our trial by jury system.

The Jury and the Defense of Insanity was the product of an experimental study con­ducted as part of the University of Chicago Jury Project. Over 1,000 jurors were chosen to participate, not as volunteers, but as part of their regular jury duty, in two experimental trials, one on a charge of housebreaking, the other of incest. In each the insanity de­fense was raised. Court judges instructed the jurors to consider the recorded trials they were about to hear with all the care and seriousness they would give to a real criminal prosecution, and the taped recordings of their deliberations make it clear that they did just that. These recordings, along with responses to detailed questionnaires, yielded significant data, equally applicable to civil as to criminal cases. We learn their reactions to their fellow jurors; personal evaluations of the quality and effectiveness of delibera­tions; the degree to which religion, sex, social status, education, and like factors affect participation in and influence on the course of the deliberation; and the recounting of and reliance upon personal experience in seeking to reach a verdict, among other in­sights furnished by this study.

This is an exact record—not a description or recollected account—of the struggle of a jury to weigh evidence and achieve a just verdict. For lawyers whose job it is to win civil and criminal cases, for behavioral scientists who study male and female reactions in their cultural environment to the circumstances that confront them, and to all who are interested in how people behave and why, in a dramatic, socially significant situation, this is a fascinating and revealing book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765804471
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/1/1998
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Rita J. Simon is professor at the School of Public Affairs at American University. Some of her primary research interests are law and society, the jury system immigration policies, and public opinion. In addition to being editor of Gender Issues, she is the author of numerous books, including Women’s Movements in America and Global Perspectives on Social Issues.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction to the Transaction Edition 3
Pt. I History and Method 15
1 The Defense of Insanity in English and American Courts: A Brief Review 16
2 Experimental Juries - Method and Research Design 34
Pt. II The Impact of the Experimental Variables on the Jury's Verdict 65
3 The Jury's Response to Legal Rules in Defense of Insanity Trials 66
4 The Jury's Assessment of the Psychiatric Testimony 78
5 The Jury's Response to the Commitment Instruction 90
Pt. III The Influence of Social Status and Attitudes on the Jury's Decisions 97
6 Social Status Differences Among Jurors 98
7 Jurors' Attitudes Toward Mental Illness, Psychiatry, and Related Topics 120
Pt. IV The Jury Deliberates 131
8 The Sound of the Jury 132
Pt. V A Look to the Future 181
9 The Jurors' Appraisal of Legal Rules 182
10 Postscript: The Durham Rule in the Real World 202
11 Summary and Concluding Remarks 213
App. A The Deliberation of Jury 57 221
App. B: Bibliography 247
List of Tables 257
Index 263
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