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Prospects for Reform

Jury reform is needed because less than half of those summoned to the courthouse bother to show up, and out of this group between 85 to 95 percent do not serve since they are either exempt, disqualified, or not chosen. Because of the increased importance placed on the ideal jury as conceived by jury consultants, less informed and qualified persons are more likely to be on a jury.

Arizona has made the following reforms: allowing jurors to take notes during a trial, allowing them to question witnesses, and permitting jurors to discuss the case among themselves prior to the time all evidence has been presented. These reforms are needed because the present laws and court rules on juries were put in place many years ago and do not reflect the advances scientists have made regarding how people retain and process new information.

In Arizona, a committee including former jurors made further recommendations such as increasing public awareness of jury service, having short opening statements prior to attorneys selecting juries, giving jurors copies of jury instructions, encouraging jurors to ask questions about these instructions, offering assistance by the judge and attorneys for both sides to a deadlocked jury, and obtaining jurors’ reaction to their experience after the verdict is rendered.

Inside Prospects for Reform