The Fair and Deliberative Jury Process

Helping Juries to Help Themselves Make Better Decisions

By Grant Todd

Real Possibilities Involving the Current Jury System
  • Difficulty getting organized
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Issues of the case clouded and confused by distractive confrontations
  • Conflict disrupts deliberative process
  • Judges are influenced by post-trial interviews where jurors are reluctant to make complaints, anxious to be dismissed and go home
  • Various negative outcomes occur:
    • Individual jurors refuse to participate
    • A Conclusive verdict cannot be reached
    • A disingenuous verdict results
Proposed: The Fair and Deliberative Jury Process
  • Maintain the jury’s chosen order of elements for discussion, time-keeping and relevance of recorded notes to actual juror comments.
  • Elements of the Parallel Thinking Process: How the Jurors Work Together to Reach a Just Verdict
    • Managing the Process
      • Deciding issues to be discussed and in what order
    • Information
      • Categorizing evidence as fact, probable, or possible
    • Benefits
      • Focusing on the strong points made by the prosecution and defense
    • Cautions
      • Identifying weaknesses in testimony and evidence
    • Possibilities
      • Examining if the evidence points to other conclusions
    • Feelings
      • Expressing feelings without justifying them
The Court’s Role
  • Simply, offer the jury the choice of using Parallel thinking or not
  • Make the DVD available via court website, pre-trial pool orientation, and allow jurors to refer to it and the pocket guides in jury deliberation
  • Familiarization with the process should begin prior to the voir dire phase and the jury being seated