Mental patients as jurors.

Simon, R. J. (1964). Mental patients as jurors. Human Organization, 22, 276-282.

In previous articles we have reported the effects of education, sex, and socioeconomic status on jury verdicts. In the present paper we shall consider the effects on verdicts of still another variable: the personality of the jurors. The subjects to be reported upon are institutionalized mental patients. Obviously, in the day to day operations of the court, such persons would rarely, if ever, serve on regular juries. While we have some interest in comparing the nature and quality of their decisions with those of regular juries, our primary concern is comparative in a different sense. We seek to test the possibility that there is a systematic relationship between types of maladjustment or deformations of normal personality resulting in particular diagnostic classifications and verdict dispositions. With this goal in mind, we designed an experiment in which patients classified as paranoids, depressives, and psychopaths were organized into diagnostically homogeneous groups of six-man juries. The trial that they heard was a criminal case involving a plea of insanity to a charge of incest. Juries composed of mental patients less likely to convict than non-institutionalized juries. Juries composed of paranoid-hostile individuals most likely to convict and had deliberations similar to non-institutionalized juries; juries composed of psychopaths most likely to acquit by reason of insanity.