Thursday, December 29, 2011
For the past 50 years, the Model Penal Code has divided state of mind (mens rea) into four categories: purposeful, knowing, reckless, and negligent. According to a recent empirical study, jurors are pretty good about understanding and employing the categories—with one exception. They have a difficult time distinguishing between “knowing” and “reckless.” The distinction can have major consequences when it comes to sentencing.
I have found very few relatively recent empirical studies on how jurors understand jury instructions. As this study demonstrates, more work is needed. Here is the article from the NYU Law Review