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The Secret to Getting Out of Jury Duty

April 29th, 2014 No comments


Jury duty: two words that strike fear into even the most masculine of men. Often when people get their jury duty summons they spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to get out of it whether by claiming to be wildly biased (a rather conservative approach) or by creating a whole character of crazy a la Liz Lemon dressing up as Princess Leia and claiming, “I don’t really think it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I can read thoughts.” Either way, these tactics are often unsuccessful and you would most likely be better served by giving truthful answers to the qualifying questions than anything else.

In reality, if you know yourself and your mind, the truth might actually get you out of jury duty while also helping the court avoid a possible wrongful conviction. Although some cases are easily decided, the most ambiguous cases increase chance of wrongful conviction and application of heuristics in damaging ways. A heuristic, which is a mental shortcut that our brain creates in order to allow us to make quick decisions and judgments, is applied automatically when we approach a decision. However, because these heuristics may embody socially unacceptable implicit attitudes and beliefs, these automatic decisions can and often are overridden by controlled thinking. However, these heuristics may still be applied when the individual is using cognitive resources on other tasks. Research has shown that three factors play an important role in the jury member’s determination of defendant guilt: prejudice, working memory capacity (WMC), and cognitive load.

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