Dateline: November, 2010, Issue 4

How well do jurors understand jury instructions?

Jury instructions are designed to instruct jurors in the law.

Considerable research has examined how well jurors understand jury instructions.

In a review of this research literature, Elwork and Sales (1985) found that comprehension levels for pattern jury instructions stand at about 50% or less.

The average juror has a low level of understanding of jury instructions.

Source Elwork, A., & Sales, B. D. (1985). Jury instructions. In S. M. Kassin & L.S. Wrightsman (eds.), The psychology of evidence and trial procedure (pp. 280-297). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.