Dateline: July, 2010, Issue 2

What do jurors think of circumstantial evidence?

Jurors often perceive circumstantial evidence as weak evidence, rather than an alternative way to prove a fact.

Strawn and Buchanan (1976) found that, despite instructions to the contrary, 43% of jurors were skeptical of or uncertain about circumstantial evidence.

Jury instructions do little to overcome jurors' skepticism of circumstantial evidence.

Jurors are skeptical of circumstantial evidence, despite legal instructions to the contrary.

Source: Saxton, B. (1998). How well do jurors understand jury instructions? A field test using real juries and real trials in Wyoming. Land & Water Law Review, 33, pp. 59-189.

Source: Kramer, G. P. & Koenig, D. M. (1990). Do jurors understand criminal jury instructions? Analyzing the results of the Michigan Juror Comprehension Project. Journal of Legal Reform, 23, pp. 401-437.

Source: Strawn, D. U. & Buchanan, R. W. (1976). Jury confusion: A threat to justice. Judicature, 59, pp. 478-483.