This paper summarizes the papers presented at a conference held on October 6, 2000, co-sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and Brooklyn Law School’s Center for the Study of Law, Language, and Cognition to examine the law governing juries and ways to improve the selection of jurors and prospective jurors and defining the jury’s role.
The conference brought together practitioners and researchers from many subject areas. The first panel was titled "Jurors and Cognition: How Do Jurors Really Make Decisions?" focused on jurors and cognition with respect to jury decision making. This session focused on the gap between the ways in which the system aims to help jurors make decisions and how jurors actually make decisions. The second panel was titled "Jurors and Language: How Well Can We Expect Jurors To Understand Their Assignments?" This panel focused on juror comprehension of jury instructions. The third panel, titled "The Law’s Quest for Impartiality: Juror Selection and Juror Nullification," focused on women jurors, bilingual jurors, the frequency of jury nullification, and peremptory challenges. The fourth panel was titled "The Jury in the Twenty-first Century," focused on how juries in the next century or the next millennium might function or should function. One panelist asserted that the goal for the future should be to empower juries and recommended the use of technology in many forms to restore jurors to a more active role. Panelists also discussed possible objections, including cost, tradition, and the impact these varying technologies might have on juries and questioned whether empowering the jury of the future and enhancing its role was the most desirable approach. Footnotes