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Jury deliberation

This case is examined.

Q1. Imagine you are a juror on a personal injury civil trial. The plaintiff is a 76-year-old woman who, while walking down the street in broad daylight, allegedly tripped and fell on an exposed electrical wire that was in the middle of the street as part of a street light replacement project (she claims she didn't see the wires, despite the fact they were red and green). The plaintiff broke her nose and right shoulder, and required two shoulder replacement surgeries.

The defendant in this case is the construction company hired to replace the street lights. It is being sued for $1 million by the plaintiff for negligence, in that it failed to place appropriate barricades over the exposed wires.

As a juror, what other information would you want to know about this case before you can deliberate, and what personality characteristics mentioned in the text would come into play in your verdict decision?

Q2. Provide an example of jury nullification. You may use one from real life or a hypothetical one. Make sure it is different from your classmates' examples.

Q3. Explain how psychology can play a role in the jury system.

Q4. What are some of the aspects of a trial that can potentially influence a jury's verdict?

Solution Preview

1) As a juror in this case, I would want to know the following:
a) Did the plaintiff have vision impairments or other health problems that made it hard for her to see the wires?
b) Were there any other accidents involving these wires? (i.e. did this problem occur before/were other people injured?)
c) It says that the exposed wire was in the middle of the street. Was the plaintiff crossing the street? If not, what was she doing in the middle of the street?
d) What is the plaintiff's prognosis? Is she permanently injured/disfigured?
e) Is there any liability on the part of the town/city? Aren't they partially negligent, too, for failing to warn residents of potential hazards on public streets?
As for personality characteristics affecting my decision, I would consider the plaintiff's physical condition. The fact that the accident happened in the middle of the street in broad daylight, and that the wires were bright red and green, makes me wonder how much of the accident was due to the construction company's negligence and how much was due to her own shortcomings. Also, $1 million is an awful lot of money - has she sued in the past for this type of money? Did someone talk her into this lawsuit (i.e. a lawyer who stands to earn 1/3 of that $1million?)?

2) Jury nullification is a jury's refusal to render a verdict according to the law, as instructed by the court, regardless of the weight of evidence presented. Instead, a jury bases its verdict on other grounds.
There are several examples of this practice in United States history. For example, jury nullification appeared in the pre-Civil War era when juries often refused to ...

Solution Summary

Jury deliberation is described.