Blago Jury Still Out; Will Gender of Jurors Play a Role in Verdict?


Since they disappeared behind closed doors, jurors at the corruption retrial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have left behind a much-discussed question in the corridors of the federal courthouse and across Chicago’s media waves, reports the Associated Press. ould the final verdict be influenced by the fact that 11 of the 12 jurors are women, when juries normally break down fairly even along gender lines? The short answer, according to jury consultants and legal scholars, is no. “There is no evidence that men and women, in the end, actually vote differently,” said Nancy Marder, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

But, while many factors contribute to how a juror might vote, juries dominated by men or women may get to a verdict using somewhat different deliberative processes, Marder said, citing small-scale studies that often rely on mock juries. Academic findings suggest that men may be more inclined to take a vote on a verdict right away and then form competing, sometimes combative coalitions in a jury room. It is an approach depicted in the 1957 movie, “12 Angry Men” starring Henry Fonda, where an all-male jury almost comes to blows.

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