Date of Conferral







Jessica Hart


AbstractVery little research has been done on elderly jurors who were age 55 or older when they served on juries. The research that exists suggests that older jurors are more likely to vote to convict than younger jurors, although the reasons for the higher conviction rates have not been studied in depth. This study explored the lived experiences of elderly jury members in determining verdicts while in the performance of jury duty and the defendant characteristics that influenced their verdict decisions. Story model theory and director’s cut theory were used to attempt to explain how elderly jurors arrived at verdict decisions. Five participants who were 55 or older when serving on a jury were recruited through social media and Walden’s participant pool. Participants were interviewed by telephone and asked what personal characteristics they considered when evaluating a criminal act and how they reached their verdict decision from the evidence presented at trial. Data from the interviews were analyzed and coded according to the interpretive phenomenological method. Three themes emerged from the data: feeling sorry for defendants, feeling sorry for victims, and feelings towards the criminal justice system. The findings were compared to existing literature that helped frame the factors impacting elderly jurors’ decisions, and supported suggestions to gain deeper insight on avoiding extra-legal and biasing influences. A better understanding of this phenomena can lead to positive social change by lawyers balancing situational and personal motivations of the defendants and understanding that elderly jurors will look at the character of the defendants and the victims when arriving at their verdict decisions.

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