July 5th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Opinion: What a quick verdict can tell us about a jury

Editor's note: Douglas Keene is a litigation consultant with a national practice, and served as the 2008-2009 President of the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC). He is a clinical and forensic psychologist and lectures at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law in the Trial Advocacy program.

(CNN) - The jury in the Casey Anthony trial deliberated for two days before acquitting Anthony of the death of her young daughter. Those who have been focused on the trial are now going to shift to what such a rapid verdict means. At bottom, it means that the jury did the job it was sworn to do, and it didn't require lengthy deliberation. To the 12 people who matter, the correct verdict was clear.

Juries are dedicated to nothing more than they are to getting it right. A quick verdict or a lengthy deliberation: Either one is a sign of 12 people determined to do the best they can.

I have interviewed thousands of jurors over the last 20 years - in focus groups, mock trials, jury selection - and many are still talking about what they believe to be the crazy verdict in the McDonald's hot coffee case, or how the jury let O.J. Simpson get off.

Jurors speak passionately about how they would exert great care if it were up to them, and they are highly critical of juries that they think failed to pay attention to facts. Jurors don't want to reach a verdict that will bring ridicule on them, and they want to sleep well knowing that they did what they knew was just.

Quick verdicts in lengthy cases are not entirely unusual, and usually - but not always - point to several factors:


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Opinion
soundoff (One Response)
  1. kevin robinson

    I find this verdict to be strange n unusal.....the main facts/evidence was overwhelming to the aggravated child abuse.....caylee was n casey's care as the caregiver.....when the death or incident occurred she was the sole guardian....last seen alive caylee was with mom.....the suit filed by zeniada gonzalez proved that, then mom lies about her future whereabouts.....is that not aggravated abuse becuz its 31 days but no missing child reports?.....who was her search team?.....prosecutors missed on that one.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm |