Judicial Process: Describe the advantages and disadvantages of a 6 person jury. Would you prefer to have 6 or 12 juries if you were the defendant in a criminal trial? Why?
Various studies have shown that jury size can significantly impact the quality and speed of verdict-reaching. Studies have shown that a jury size of 6 has advantages, but it also has critical disadvantages. As in other matters, an involvement of lesser number of people imply quicker decision-making because there are less voices to be heard and is easier to coordinate. The same is true in jury size, according to studies. A 6-person jury deliberates faster because not only are there less number of voices to be heard, but dominant voices are less likely to arise as time is more or less equitably divided. However, if studies are to be believed there are significant disadvantages in a jury of this size. One of these disadvantages is the lesser possibility of representing most minorities as there are in a community in a smaller group (Neubauer & Meinhold 355). As jury size grows bigger, the possibility of obtaining a representative cross-section of society is greater than in a smaller size jury. This is particularly true with the so-called opinion minorities – or those persons who have the guts to go against the decision of the majority, such as the architect-jury in the 12 Angry Men (Bartol & Bartol 196).
If I were a defendant in a criminal case, I would prefer to have a 12-man jury rather than a 6-man jury. Although a 6-man jury has advantages, its disadvantages may be too critical for me as defendant. For one, there is the possibility of not getting sufficient representative cross-section of society. I would like people who hear and decide my case to come from as different backgrounds as possible to diminish any bias from persons of the same background. In addition, the more people there are the likelihood that more skills and knowledge is available is higher. I would like for a quick return of the verdict as possible, but not when it means that there was less deliberation of my innocence or guilt. On the other hand, there is the possibility of a hung jury, which means the possibility of another trial. However, the advantages of a 12-man jury are too important for me as a defendant to the advantages that may be presented by a 6-man jury.
Bartol, C. and Bartol, A. (2015). Psychology and Law: Research and Practice. SAGE Publications.
Neubauer, D.W. and Meinhold, S.S. (2013). Judicial Process: Law, Courts and Politics in the United States. Belmont, CA: Cengage Wadsworth.