Improving Jury Deliberations: A Reconsideration of Lesser Included Offense Instructions

This Note approves of efforts to avoid hung juries by giving lesser included offense instructions but opposes those instructions that restrict juror decisions and coerce minority jurors. Rather, this Note offers a lesser included offense instruction that promotes flexibility and jury compromise without undermining the deliberative process. Part I describes the problem of hung juries and how courts have tried to prevent them with restrictive lesser included offense instructions. Part II analyzes the coercive impact of restrictive lesser included offense instructions and concludes that an instruction conditioning deliberations upon individual juror disagreement better promotes compromises on the merits while reducing hung juries and juror coercion.