Dateline: September, 2007, Issue 6
How well do jurors understand negligence instructions?
At the end of trials, judges give jurors a set of instructions that explain the laws that are applicable to the case and that direct jurors to reach a verdict in accordance with those laws.
Greene and Johns (2001) investigated the extent to which jurors understand judicial instructions in negligence cases, whether their comprehension was enhanced by access to a written copy of the instructions, and whether deliberations had an effect on jurors' comprehension of instructions.
Comprehension of negligence instructions was about 64%. Having access to written instructions failed to enhance jurors' comprehension of negligence instructions, although the opportunity to deliberate did.
Source Greene, E. & Johns, M. (2001). Jurors' use of instructions on negligence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31, pp. 840-859.