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University of New Hampshire Law Review

Authors

Maggie Wittlin

Abstract

When evaluating whether to sue, prosecute, settle, or plead, trial lawyers must predict the future—they need to estimate how likely they are to win a given case in a given jurisdiction. Social scientists have used mock juror studies to produce a vast body of literature showing how different variables influence juror decisionmaking. But few of these studies account for jury deliberation, so they present an impoverished picture of how these effects play out in trials and are of limited usefulness.

This Article helps lawyers better predict the future by presenting a novel computer model that extrapolates findings about jurors to juries, showing how variables of interest affect the decisions not only of individuals but also of deliberative bodies. The Article demonstrates the usefulness of the model by applying it to data from an empirical study of the factors that influence juror decisions in acquaintance rape cases. This application first elucidates a tension in criminal law: even if a substantial majority of jurors in a community would vote to convict a defendant, a majority of juries might still acquit. It also demonstrates that certain legal reforms will have a meaningful effect in some areas of the country but not others, suggesting that rape law reform should occur at a local, not national, level.

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