The jury box and the urn: Containing our expectations

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The irony of preparing a submission for a journal bearing the name Pandora's Box did not escape me. This concatenation underscores the fact that construing the contemporary jury as the Pandora's Box of the criminal justice system is an apt analogy in several respects. Like Pandora's curiosity about the secret contents of her gift, academics, legal practitioners and the public are consumed with curiosity about what transpires in the minds of those seated in the jury box and behind the closed doors of the jury deliberation room. As an aside, the English translation of the Greek myth does not actually survive close scrutiny. In reality, Zeus never gave Pandora a box, but an urn instead. Nevertheless, the goal of this commentary is to lift the lid of the "box" to review common contemporary narratives about jury duty and jury behaviour, and to examine how well these narratives align with the psychological realities and available empirical evidence about jury behaviour. If the jury box is opened, are the risks to justice so considerable, that like Pandora, our curiosity will soon be overtaken by alarm, and we will hasten to close the lid to avoid the flood of misery unleashed?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalPandora's Box: Crime, Justice and the People
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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