Citation: 435 U.S. 223 (1978).

Summary: A 1978 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in which the Court held that a state could not conduct a criminal trial with less than six jurors and doing so violated a criminal defendant’s right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

The Court supported its ruling with empirical research showing a correlation between jury size and the accuracy of the results.  The Court noted, “[a]s juries decrease in size, then they are less likely to have members who remember each of the important pieces of evidence or argument.  Furthermore, the smaller the group, the less likely it is to overcome the biases of its members to obtain an accurate result.  When individual and group decisionmaking were compared, it is seen that groups performed better because prejudices of individuals were frequently counterbalanced, and objectivity resulted.”  Id. at 234.

Related entries