The Problem of Hung Juries

UC Hastings professor Ethan Leib analyzes the problem of hung juries. Currently, both acquittals and convictions must be unanimous — in federal court and in forty-eight states. Prof. Leib suggests this isn’t fair to the defendant because the defendant fails to get the benefit of a clear outcome that would allow repose, and he faces the risk of retrial, even if eleven jurors thought either that he was innocent, or that the government had failed to prove its case. Leib recommends that a supermajority be required to convict, and a mere majority be required to acquit. He argues these reforms would effectively abolish the hung jury. [May 12, 2006, FindLaw article.]

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