Dateline: July, 2007, Issue 6

Do jury consultants affect verdicts in death penalty cases?

Jurors' attitudes about the death penalty are important to the outcome of capital cases and jury selection assistance has a demonstrable impact on sentencing recommendations.

Nietzel and Dillehay (1986) report a study that examined the outcomes of 35 capital trials where a jury consultant was used in 17 cases, and no jury consultant used in the other 18 cases. Juries recommended a sentence of death 33% of the time when a jury consultant was used, and 61% of the time when no jury consultant was used.

Defendants in capital cases that have the assistance of a jury consultant were twice as likely to receive a sentence of life, rather than death.

Source Nietzel, M.T. & Dillehay, R.C. (1986). Psychological consultation in the courtrooms. New York: Pergamon Press.