Mary R. Rose


The use of the peremptory challenge during jury selection continues to be a source of controversy, in part because critics are concerned about the attitudes and reactions of those allegedly excused on the basis of stereotypes, i.e., "for no reason." In the present research, a sample of people excused from criminal juries via the peremptory were followed-up and asked to speculate on why they were excused, as well as to rate their experience with jury selection on a number of dimensions. I hypothesized that even if all rationales involved some amount of "stereotyping," people's views about being excused should vary in terms of acceptability. Specifically, those excused on the basis of how they acted during jury selection, or because of prior experiences with the legal system, were both expected and found to be more accepting of the decision to excuse them compared to people excused on the basis of other personal characteristics. Despite differences in support for decisions, perceived rea- sons for being excused were not associated with other ratings of jury selection, including a sense of having been treated fairly, people's overall satisfaction with the jury experience, or stated willingness to serve on a jury in the future. Further, when asked to provide examples of unfair treatment, the peremptory challenge was rarely mentioned. This research suggests that prospective jurors are aware of and rather accepting of the role of adversarial interests in jury selection.

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