The Arizona Jury Reform Permitting Civil Jury Trial Discussions: The Views of Trial Participants, Judges, and Jurors

In 1995, the Arizona Supreme Court reformed the jury trial process by allowing civil jurors to discuss the evidence presented during trial prior to their formal deliberations. This Article examines and evaluates the theoretical, legal, and policy issues raised by this reform and presents the early results of afield experiment that tested the impact of trial discussions. Jurors, judges, attorneys, and litigants in civil jury trials in Arizona were questioned regarding their observations, experiences, and reactions during trial as well as what they perceived to be the benefits and drawback of juror discussions. The data revealed that the majority of judges and jurors support juror discussions during trial while attorneys and litigants are divided in their views of this reform. The study also revealed that experience with the reform appears to increase support for it. Although the impact of the reform on the jury decision making processes remains unclear, these early findings provide some insight into the effects of reforming the juror deliberation process.