Kerwin, J., & Shaffer, D. R. (1991). The effects of jury dogmatism on reactions to jury nullification instructions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 140-146.
Jury nullification instructions give jurors permission to disregard a law if they feet that its strict application would result in an unjust verdict. In a jury simulation, dogmatic and nondogmatic juries were given either standard or null fication instruc tions by the judge after hearing a euthanasia trial. Because of their alleged respect for and reliance on the pronouncements of authority figures, it was hypothesized that dogmatic juries would be more influenced than nondogmalic juries by the type of judge’s instructions they received. Results from verdicts rendered, content analyses of jury deliberations, and postexperimental questionnaire data supported this hypothesis. Some implications of these outcomes are discussed.
Juries tended to acquit more often when reminded of nullification ability. Verdicts of high-dogmatic juries heavily influenced by presence-absence of a nullification reminder; verdicts for low-dogmatic juries unaffected by content of judicial instructions.