Convicting the innocent: The inferiority of unanimous jury verdicts under strategic voting

Timothy Feddersen, Wolfgang Pesendorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is often suggested that requiring juries to reach a unanimous verdict reduces the probabilityof acquitting a guilty defendant. We construct a model that demonstrates how strategic voting by jurors undermines this basic intuition. We show that the unanimity rule may lead to a high probability of both kinds of error and that the probability of convicting an innocent defendant may actually increase with the size of the jury. Finally, we demonstrate that a wide variety of voting rules, including simple majority rule, lead to much lower probabilities of both kinds of error.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume92
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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