Monday, April 20, 2015

Sorting Out Jury Verdicts

Students are used to popular cultural representations of jury verdicts as "simple" pronouncements of guilt of innocence.  However, as factfinders, the jury's duty in a civil case can be quite complex.

A jury in California recently ruled against Ellen Pao in her highly publicized sex discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins,a powerful silicon valley venture capital firm. The case is certainly interesting as a teaching tool on a number of fronts.  But I am particularly interested in bringing to you a link to the jury verdict form from the case, courtesy of the New York Times.  Students viewing the verdict form sent into the deliberation room will be surprised to learn that it contains 7 pages of detailed questions for the jury to answer.  The jury answers the fact-specific questions and, from their answers, the court (judge) fashions the judgment. There are also 14 pages of written instructions. Release of the verdict form sheds light on a part of trial procedure about which our students are mostly in the dark

It's not exactly as simple as "We find for the defendant."

News report on Pao verdict:

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