Skip to content

A.B.A. Principles and “GroupThink”

    A.B.A Principles for Jury Improvement

    Jury Instructions are primarily exhortational and therefore offered up by the Judge as an inducement via suggestions.

    A jury is free to use any process, organized or otherwise to determine an outcome, save what the judge has explicitly forbidden. The exhortations, however intended merely place a significant requirement for the presiding juror to execute skills they do not have.

    Example exhortations:
    – Choice
    – Orderly and balanced input
    – Structure of discussion
    – Tolerance
    – Deportment
    – Feelings

    The major problem is that they assume that jurors can and will organize around all these considerations, when, in fact, a selected group of strangers shares no common point of reference on any point of consideration. Rather, studies like GroupThink© produced the following by Dr. Janus on the interactive dynamics of groups, suggesting that a methodological structure is better than exhortations.

    GroupThink Syndrome

    Structural Faults of a Jury Seeking Genuine Concurrence

    • Insulation of the Group (sequestered jury) from Governed Process (Court)
    • Lack of Tradition of Impartial Leadership (Individual juror experience )
    • Lack of Norms, Requiring Methodical Procedures (Socio-economic diversity)
    • Homogeneity of Member’s Social Background and Ideology (More diversity)

    Provocative Situational Context

    • High Stress from External Sources Focused on Obligation (Verdict)
    • Social Awkwardness ( encounter with strangers and court protocol)
    • Insufficient Interactive Skills (Order, Tolerance and empathy)
    • Temporary Low Self-Esteem from Personal Failures in a Discussion or Argument Context that makes Members’ Inadequacies Salient. (Inexperience, confrontation, taking sides)
    • Excessive Difficulties in Minor Discussions and on Small Issues that Lower each Member’s
      Sense of Self-Efficacy with Others. (Inability to articulate one’s position ; maintaining balance of thought in confrontation)

    The Fair and Just Deliberations Process is designed and presented in a way to best enlist balanced participation and improved comprehension by jurors because it minimizes distraction and reduces argument.

    The structure design is for the Jury and by the Jurors in concert with the elected Presiding Juror. There is no dependence on the Presiding Juror to have skills for group organization and interaction. The orderly perspectives used in the method enables all participants to better organize and focus on the issues at hand. Time allotments for discussion are imposed by the jurors themselves, which assures focus and commitment. No overall time-frame need be imposed. Feelings are addressed, which in many cases are disguised value or principled positions on any given issue.