Symposium Analyzes Psychological Makeup of Jurors

A symposium in Tallahassee Friday focuses on the human factor and its influence in court. As two former Tyco executives await a verdict in New York, the jury is making
headlines, calling the mood in the jury room "poisonous".

The judge even sent jurors home to cool off. That kind of rancor is rare.

"Pretty often there's a unanimous verdict pretty early on, so these cases that are played up in the media a lot where jurors disagree, 12 angry men sort of thing, that doesn't happen all that often," says Brian Bornstein of the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Professor Bornstein is one of many people who spend their careers trying to analyze the behavior of juries, and because deliberations are off limits to everyone, it’s fair to say it's an inexact science.

The behavior of juries is one topic on the agenda at this FSU Law School symposium. Professor Greg Mitchell says even though jurors bring their own biases and emotions to court, research shows they do a surprisingly good job.

"If you compare deliberations of juries and the decisions they come to, to the decisions judges would make in similar cases, there's a very high degree of agreement between judges and juries," Mitchell says.

The one-day symposium brought scholars from across the country to Tallahassee, some from as far away as New York and California.