Empirical research indicates that jurors routinely undervalue circumstantial evidence (DNA, fingerprints, and the like) and overvalue direct evidence (eyewitness identifications and confessions) when making verdict choices, even though false-conviction statistics indicate that the former is normally more probative and more reliable than the latter. The traditional explanation of this paradox, based on the probability-threshold model of jury decision-making, is that jurors simply do not understand circumstantial evidence and thus routinely underestimate its effect on the objective probability of the defendant’s guilt.
On their faces, Washington v. Glucksberg and Lawrence v. Texas seem to have little in common. In Glucksberg, the Supreme Court upheld a law prohibiting assisted suicide and rejected a claim that the Constitution protects a “right to die”; in Lawrence, the Court struck down a law prohibiting homosexual sodomy and embraced a claim that the Constitution protects homosexual persons’ choices to engage in intimate relationships. Thus, in both subject matter and result, Lawrence and Glucksberg appear far apart.