Dateline: August, 2011, Issue 3

How does a juror's social status affect participation in deliberations?

Jurors with higher occupational statuses, higher levels of education, and higher incomes have higher social status. Social status disparities affect our communication activities and social behaviors, including jurors' behavior on juries.

York (2006) interviewed jurors post-verdict in Boston and found higher levels of participation in deliberations among upper class jurors.

Cornwell and Hans (2009) studied 2,306 criminal jurors who served on 311 juries. A juror's social class predicted the juror's participation in deliberations. Jurors with a college degree participated significantly more than those not having a college degree. Independently, jurors with higher incomes participated more in deliberations than those with lower incomes.

Absent consideration of social status, a juror's gender did not predict the juror's participation in deliberations. Men did not participate more in deliberations than women. Both men and women of higher social status participated more in deliberations, and men and women of lower social status participated less.

Jury decision-making reflects social status disparities. Jurors with higher social status -- higher occupational statuses, higher levels of education, and higher incomes -- typically participate more in deliberations than their lower status counterparts.

Source York,E. (2006). Social status in jury deliberations: 1957 and today, in memory of Fred Strodtbeck. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, Quebec.

Source Cornwell, E.Y. & Hans, V. P. (2009, July 30). Contextualizing Jury Participation: Case-, Jury-, and Juror-Level Predictors of Participation in Jury Deliberations. Paper presented at the. CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies.