Economist: Use ‘Moneyball’ Approach to Fix Jury Duty

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Like many Americans, Princeton economist Alan Krueger was frustrated by the wasted time of his jury-duty experience in New Jersey, reports Quartz. The former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers took to Twitter to vent and to suggest a solution. “It seems to me that this is something that needs to be done scientifically, taking a ‘Moneyball’ approach to how big a group needs to be called in to form a jury.” Courts are well aware of the problem, thanks to a “juror utilization rate” metric that measures just how many potential jurors are called in unnecessarily. In the early 2000s, the metric said 82 percent of those summoned in New York were never selected for trial.

To impanel 12 citizen jurors, you need to call in many more people. In most courts, it’s reasonable to call in between 45 and 60 people, says Paula Agor-Hannaford of the National Center for State Courts. That number can rise dramatically if a case is sensitive or controversial.  Hannaford said some jurisdictions have reduced jury pool sizes, but inefficiency is still “a very big problem” in others. “Some courts get really good, and then they get sloppy again,” she says. “Some of these practices don’t get institutionalized well.”

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