Inside the Black Box

What Empirical Research Tells Us about Decisionmaking by Civil Juries

by Robert J. MacCoun


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This article discusses the potential contribution to the policymaking process of systematic empirical research on the behavior of civil juries. It provides a brief primer on methods of jury research; summarizes some of the major patterns in liability, compensatory, and punitive jury judgments; and attempts to explain how civil juries reach such judgments, drawing heavily on research on mock juries and describing the effects of extralegal variables on jury judgment.

Originally published in: Verdict: Assessing the Civil Jury System, Brookings Institution, 1993, pp. 137-180.

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