David Y. Atlas


This Note proposes that all courts embrace the unanimous acquittal instruction because it encourages the jury to engage in an effective and conscientious deliberative process. The disagreement instruction not only fosters imprudent decision making, but also invites the jury to abuse its power to render a compromise verdict and thus is a wholly inappropriate method for instructing jurors on their consideration of lesser included offenses. Part II of this Note explores the background of the lesser offense doctrine, the elements of each instruction and the rationale behind recent judicial precedent in this area. Part III sets forth empirical research on jury behavior and analyzes judicial authority illustrating that the unanimous acquittal instruction substantially increases the effectiveness of the jury's decision making process. The Note concludes that courts must uniformly adopt the unanimous acquittal rule in order to maintain the integrity of the deliberative process.

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