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The Jury Crisis


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: What's Wrong with Juries? 1 Triers of Fact 2 Supplying Facts in Early Juries 3 How Jurors Use Facts to Tell Stories 4 Why Jurors Prefer Stories over Facts 5 Jury Selection: Identifying Who Will Tell Which Stories 6 Jury Selection in a Product-Liability Lawsuit 7 Jury Deliberations: The Stories Widen 8 Jury Deliberations in Real Trials 9 Storytellers in Robes 10 The Biases behind Judges' Stories 11 The Vanishing Jury 12 Trying the Jury Trial 13 Junk the Jury or Fix the Flaws? Notes Bibliography Index About the Author

About the Author

Drury Sherrod, PhD, is the co-founder of Mattson & Sherrod, Inc., a jury research firm specializing in trial strategy and jury selection for high-damage civil defense trials, many involving Fortune 500 companies. Sherrod is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. Along with authoring Social Psychology (1982), he has authored more than thirty articles on psychology, jury behavior, attribution theory and the effects of environmental stress on human behavior. He has, also, written hundreds of narrative-style opening statements for jury trials, which were adopted by attorneys and presented to actual trial jurors. Sherrod has given many talks on jury trials and juries in America to a variety of audiences, including college classes, law firms, bar associations, legal conferences, professional associations and groups interested in law and the social sciences, and has also presented research findings to hundreds of attorneys in law firms across the United States. You an visit his website at


The Jury Crisis clearly and concisely describes the various procedures used in the U.S. to resolve legal disputes in the U.S.-jury trials, judge trials, rulings by judges without trial, arbitrations, mediations, settlements. Dr. Sherrod uses his training and experience as a psychologist and jury researcher, supported by a broad array of empirical studies performed by himself and other scientists and legal experts, to show how and why juries and judges decide cases as they actually do, rather than how they are commonly thought to decide them. Most importantly, he presents powerful arguments for preserving jury trials by making much-needed improvements in the way trials are conducted. -- Malcolm E. Wheeler, Founding Partner/Counsel Emeritus, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnnell LLP
Sherrod has written a fascinating book about the U.S jury system. It is a quick read which will be understandable to a broad audience. It starts with the fascinating history of the jury and describes the changes the jury system has endured through the years. It ultimately asks an important and timely question: Are juries relevant and useful in today's world? The book offers ways to fix the current jury system and describes alternatives including trials decided by judges. Its lively anecdotes and accounts of real trials will keep readers turning every last page. -- Monica Miller, Professor, Criminal Justice and Psychology
This book is a gift to the serious trial lawyer. It is easy to read this clear-eyed prose that imparts important, documented information about how juries decide. I am recommending it as required reading for my colleagues, whether they be experienced or novice trial lawyers. -- Chilton Davis Varner, King and Spalding, Former President of American College of Trial Lawyers
Over his distinguished career in jury research, Dru Sherrod has advised hundreds of lawyers how best to shape and present their case arguments. In this book, Dru educates the reader about the challenges jury trials face today and offers concrete recommendations about saving this critical institution. After years of counselling lawyers on storytelling, Dru demonstrates his own special storytelling for the reader. -- Michael L. O'Donnell, Chairman of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell
A fascinating and unique read. Psychologist Drury Sherrod draws upon several decades of experience as a litigation consultant in a wide range of civil and criminal cases and his knowledge of social scientific research to offer a rich set of insights into the weaknesses (and strengths) of jury (and judge!) decision-making. The volume is rich in history and noted cases but especially valuable are the never-before-seen analyses and insights drawn from Sherrod's hundreds of consulting cases. This is essential reading for practitioners who argue before judges and juries and want to know how to maximize the effects of their arguments; for researchers who will delight in a view of the jury from a fellow scientist who is also "insider" in the often-cloaked world of litigation consulting; and for policymakers who will be especially interested in Sherrod's many suggestions for how the jury system can be improved. -- Steven Penrod, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY

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