How to break a deadlocked jury

Update (6/17): The judge in the Bill Cosby case declared a mistrial. (If the jury had been able to engage in range voting instead (see below), there would have been no chance of a deadlock in the first place.)

The jury in the Bill Cosby case is still deadlocked after a full week of deliberations. It doesn’t have to be this way. We present a simple method for breaking deadlocked juries in our 2015 paper “Why don’t juries try range voting” (Guerra-Pujol, Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 51, no. 3 (2015), pp. 682-692). Briefly, instead of requiring jurors to vote all-or-nothing, i.e. “guilty” or “not guilty,” we would replace this binary tradition with a more nuanced range voting procedure. Specifically, we would let jurors score or rate the prosecution’s case on a scale of 0 to 10. Under our range voting proposal, with a twelve-man jury the highest possible score the prosecution could receive would be a perfect 120, while the lowest possible score would be 0, and the defendant would be found guilty only if the sum of the juror’s individual scores exceed a certain threshold, say 100.

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