Jury Decision Making
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What is the adversarial court system?
- Uk, US, Commonwealth
- Structured dispute between two theoretically equal parties
- The presentation of evidence gives the advantage
- Judges are not usually involved in case presentation of evidence gathering and remain as an impartial arbiter
- Judge delivers sentence for more minor cases and jurors for more major ones
What is the inquisitorial court system?
- Continental Europe
- Judges conduct their own investigation for or against defendant such as calling witnesses and conducting interviews
- Decides whether the case continues or halts
- More of an investigation than a dispute
What is the difference between criminal and civil cases?
- Civil is non criminal law (in the UK) and deals with litigation and disputes between independent parties
- Based on a balance of probability
- Criminal cases are offences that are counter to the public interest
- Based on a burden of truth
What is the difference between the magistrate and crown courts?
- All criminal cases start and 95% end in magistrate courts
- No jury, 2/3 magistrates or a district judge
- Less serious 'summary' offences dealt with
- Crown courts hold the more serious 'indictable' offences and appeals against decisions made by the magistrates
- A jury determines guilt and passes the sentence
What is a jury?
- A group of individuals from the general public who swear to make an impartial decision based on the evidence presented
- 12 in England, 15 in Scotland
- Find facts, determine truth from falsity and resolve cases through common sense
What are the advantages of Juries?
- Guard against a state monopoly (totalitarian)
- More representative of the reasoning of the population than a single judge (but males are consistently over-represented)
- A group is less susceptible to corruption and coaching
What are the disadvantages of Juries?
- Untrained and varying in intellectual ability
- Prone to influence by extra-legal factors such as appearance
- Unfamiliar with legal proceedings and might misunderstand them
- Struggle to interpret complex scientific or statistical information presented to them
Why is it hard to research Jurors?
- Their deliberation cannot be observed in most European countries (so studies take place in the US)
- One cannot say the jury made the right or wrong decision, cases are rarely black and white - Bornstein & Green (2011)
What are the issues surrounding pre-trial information?
- High profile cases attract a lot of media attention
- There is no way to determine if it is accurate and complete
- Steblay et al (1999)
- 44 empirical tests with over 5500 p's
- Used mock jurors and post trial feedback from real ones
- More likely to find the defendant guilty if there was more pre trial negative publicity
- This was even more pronounced when it contained verdict assessments on the news, multiple pieces of negative information, murder, sex or drug related or there was a larger gap between publicity and verdict
Why is pretrial publicity damaging?
- Jurors store info from it and later let it affect judgments
- Could be informational social influence: the tendency to adhere to other sources of information than your under the assumption that others are more likely to be accurate- Cialdini (1993)
- More serious crimes are more flashy and attention grabbing so these effects are amplified
Can we ward against the effects of pretrial publicity?
- Yes, if we change the venue and therefore the pool of jurors- Steblay et al (1999)
- Yes and no. Judicial instruction to ignore inadmissible evidence does not effectively eliminate its impact, although giving a reason for disregarding it increases effectiveness although contested evidence ruled as inadmissible only accentuates it, resulting on a significant impact on verdicts - Steblay et al (2006)
Do looks matter?
- Yes, unattractive individuals rated as more likely to commit murder and armed robbery- Saladin et al (1998)
- Yes- the attractiveness of defendants was positively correlated with more favourable outcomes- Stephan & Corder-Tully (1997)
- This even occurred when the defendant was found guilty- Zebrowitz & McDonald (1991)
- Halo effect- Thorndike (1920)
- Jacobson (1981)- rape cases and attractiveness
Does confidence matter?
- Yes- Cutler, Penrod & Dexter (1990)
- 129 experienced jurors from us & 321 students watched videos of mock trials
- Evidence was manipulated, the robber either wore a disguise or didn't, the robber used a weapon, and the levels of witness confidence was varied
- Confidence was the biggest determinant of judgments, the more confident, the more believable to the jurors
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