Edward P. Schwartz Strategic litigation support for jury trials, civil and criminal  


Edward P. Schwartz has more than a dozen years experience teaching courses on law and politics. A few course syllabi most relevant to jury decision-making are listed here.

The Role of the Jury in a Democratic Society

harvard university Department of Government

The jury has been described as one of the last bastions of pure participatory democracy in this country. And yet, many cling to the notion that juries are in the business of determining fact and nothing more. Is it possible to reconcile these seemingly inconsistent conceptions of the jury? In this class, we will try to sort out these and other fundamental questions about the operation of the U.S. jury system. Here, we focus our attention on the criminal jury. We do so for two main reasons. First, several prominent criminal trials have received much attention recently, focusing public scrutiny on the criminal jury process like at no other time in our nation's history. Second, the importance of the issues we discuss are magnified in the context of the criminal trial, where the issues raised are likely to incite strong passions and the stakes can be as dramatic as life and death.
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Trial by Jury

Boston University School of Law

Throughout this journey into the inner workings of the jury, one question will haunt us: "What exactly is the responsibility of a juror?" While we may not have a definitive answer to this query by the end of the term, we should all be in a much better position to understand what factors must enter into any answer we might offer. You might think you understand how a jury works now; but, I promise that you will learn at least a few things in this course that will surprise you, perhaps anger you, and certainly get you thinking. This course has a dual focus on theory and cases. So, it will be useful to future litigators, prosecutors and defense lawyers, hoping to learn about the law governing their behavior before a jury. There will also be plenty here for those students interested in the links between democracy and justice, judicial reform and other theoretical issues.
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Capital Punishment

Boston University School of Law

In this class, we will review the history, morality, constitutionality, and effectiveness of the death penalty. Along the way, we will examine the laws and judicial decisions governing:

  • Who can be executed and for which crimes,
  • The selection, instruction, and voting of capital juries, and
  • The availability of post-conviction relief.

We will devote some attention to racial discrepancies in capital sentencing and recent revelations from DNA testing that many innocent people are currently on death row.
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The Politics of Judicial Decision-making
Harvard Law School

Even legal scholars who ascribe to social science techniques, like the law and economics school, focus their attention on the consequences of legal rules, rather than the promulgation of those rules. As a result, the limited focus on judges is a normative one – telling them what to do. Political scientists, however, have concerned themselves much more with how judges actually make decisions. They have conducted hundreds of empirical studies of judicial behavior (mostly for the United States Supreme Court). The emphasis is on how political ideology drives decisions, with little attention to the potential influence of doctrinal values. Economists have recently entered the equation, applying game theory and social choice theory to the strategic interaction between judges and other actors in the policy-making process. In this course, we will review examples of these approaches and explore lessons that each holds for the others. A motivating theme for the course is whether these approaches can be reconciled into a more complete understanding of judicial behavior.
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Workshop on Jury Decision-making for Risk Managers and Litigators

One or two day seminar designed for attorneys

Firms involved in litigation require a nuanced, sophisticated, and practically relevant understanding of what drives jury decision-making. During the last thirty years, researchers have conducted literally thousands of jury studies and experiments designed to answer many of the questions most directly relevant to the interests of trial litigants. Studies of the effects of jury composition constitute only the tip of the iceberg, especially in a state like Massachusetts where civil trials are generally characterized by limited voir dire and few peremptory challenges. The literature is ripe with important results on other trial dimensions - results that litigating firms can put to good use. While, a complete jury simulation strategy must concern itself with jury composition, it must also address issues of civil procedure, jury instruction wording, damages requests, deliberation styles, and voting rules. One key to absorbing existing studies and operationalizing their results is a thorough understanding of the methodologies employed. An informed reader should be able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each study and draw conclusions accordingly. The key question is always "Can I confidently apply this result to my own case?"
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