Every Jury Trial Is a Bench Trial: Judicial Engineering of Jury Disputes
For decades virtually every scholarly work on trial judges began by lamenting the unfortunate tendency of students of judicial behavior to concentrate almost exclusively on appellate courts generally and the U.S. Supreme Court in particular. Fortunately, although this imbalance is still present to a degree, a nascent body of research has ameliorated the disparity and enhanced greatly our understanding of civil trial courts, trial judges, and the psychology of trial judging over the last decade. We review this research and conclude, first, that this research collectively suggests a value-based exercise of judicial discretion that may reflect intentional or unintentional bias in trial judging when the dispute involves ideological issues and, second, that when faced with science-based standards, statistical evidence, and other risk-assessment tasks, judges are susceptible to many of the same limits on objectivity and accuracy that plague jurors and all human decision makers faced with difficult judgments.
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