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Journal Article

Convicting the Innocent: The Inferiority of Unanimous Jury Verdicts under Strategic Voting

Timothy Feddersen and Wolfgang Pesendorfer
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 92, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 23-35
DOI: 10.2307/2585926
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2585926
Page Count: 13

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Topics: Defendants, Jurors, Juries, Legal innocence, Signals, Guilty verdicts, Voting, Verdicts, Guilt, Voting paradox
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Convicting the Innocent: The Inferiority of Unanimous Jury Verdicts under Strategic Voting
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Abstract

It is often suggested that requiring juries to reach a unanimous verdict reduces the probability of convicting an innocent defendant while increasing the probability of acquitting a guilty defendant. We construct a model that demonstrates how strategic voting by jurors undermines this basic intuition. We show that the unanimity rule may lead to a high probability of both kinds of error and that the probability of convicting an innocent defendant may actually increase with the size of the jury. Finally, we demonstrate that a wide variety of voting rules, including simple majority rule, lead to much lower probabilities of both kinds of error.

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