The juror experience: deliberating the verdict

While providing final feedback to attorneys might be the easiest part of a trial for jurors, time spent deliberating can sometimes be anything but. Determining the final outcome of a case may bring about feelings of apprehension and stress, and leave jurors second-guessing their decision.

“I know that sometimes just the process of making a decision about someone else causes jurors a lot of anxiety,” said Marion County Superior Court Judge Barbara Cook Crawford.

Although jurors can experience this tension in all types of cases, many times those feelings are heightened in more complex trials where emotional testimonies and graphic evidence is involved. And even after the case is settled, it doesn’t always mean that the jurors are too.

“When I talk to jurors, the thing they most want to know is whether (or not) they did the right thing,” said Marion County Superior Court Judge Mark Stoner. “I say, ‘I can’t tell you that,’ but I always do explain to them that it’s a human system (and) that they should have some sense of confidence (in) the fact that they were 12 strangers that didn’t know each other and after they heard everything, they were able to reach a sense of agreement.”

In the event that jurors are left feeling uneasy and want further assistance following a trial, Crawford says the court hands out pamphlets which put the experience of jury duty into perspective. She also recommends that jurors talk to a trusted friend or family member to express how they’re feeling.

And at the end of the day, Stoner believes it’s important for the jury to remember that all in all, “They had the discretion to make the call that they did.”•

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