Dateline: February, 2007, Issue 1

Do juries reach different decisions than judges?

Many studies have been done over the years to determine if bench and jury trials yield similar or different results. Judges and juries often agree. For example:

Recently, Viscusi (2002) reported on times when judges and jurors might disagree in their verdicts by examining the susceptibility of judges and jurors to biases in reasoning. Judges exhibited most of the same biases in reasoning as jurors, but to a lesser degree. For example:

Which reasoning biases did judges and jurors both evidence, though judges to a lesser degree, in Viscusi's research?

Viscusi concluded that judges exhibit the same biases as jurors when reasoning, but are more sensitive to details of the cases being judged, more coherent in their reasoning about probabilities, gains, and losses; and more accurate than jurors.

In sum, jurors and judges generally agree in their verdicts with judges exhibiting the same biases in reasoning as jurors, though to a lesser degree.

Source Kalven, H. & Zeisel, H. (1966). The American jury. Boston: Little, Brown.

Source Heuer, L. & Penrod, S. (1994). Trial complexity: A field investigation of its meaning and effects. Law and Human Behavior, 18, pp. 29-52.

Source Hans, V. P., Hannaford, P. L., & Munsterman, G. T. (1999). The Arizona jury reform permitting civil jury discussions: The views of trial participants, judges, and jurors. The University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 32, pp. 349-388.

Source Robbennolt, J. K. (2002). Punitive damage decision-making: The decisions of citizens and trial court judges. Law and Human Behavior, 26, pp. 315-342.

Source Vidmar, N. & Rice, J. J. (1993). Assessments of non-economic damage awards in medical malpractice negligence: A comparison of jurors with legal professionals. Iowa Law Review, 78, pp. 883-909.

Source Viscusi, W. K. (2002). Do judges do better? In C. R. Sunstein, R. Hastie, J. W. Payne, D. A. Schkade, & W. K. Viscusi (Eds.), Punitive damages: How juries decide (pp.186-207). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.