Quantification of standards of proof thresholds in criminal and civil litigation

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Gary P. Moran

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bennett Schwartz

Third Advisor's Name

Janat F. Parker

Date of Defense



Standards of proof in law serve the purpose of instructing juries as to the expected levels of confidence in determinations of fact. In criminal trials, to reach a guilty verdict a jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt, and in civil trials by a preponderance of the evidence. The purposes of this study are to determine the quantitative thresholds used to make these determinations; to ascertain the levels of juror agreement with basic principles of justice; and to try to predict thresholds and beliefs by juror personality characteristics. Participants read brief case descriptions and indicated thresholds in percentages, their beliefs in various principles, and completed three personality measures. A 92-94% threshold in criminal and an 80% threshold in civil matters was found; but prediction by personality was not supported. Significant percentages of jurors disavowed the presumptions of innocence and right to counsel.



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