Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, June 12, 2007--Jury Studies


NCJ 218397
Jonathan M. Golding; Gregory S. Bradshaw; Emily E. Dunlap; Emily C. Hodell
Impact of Mock Jury Gender Composition on Deliberations and Conviction Rates in a Child Sexual Assault Trial
Child Maltreatment
Volume: 12 Issue:2 Dated: May 2007 Pages:182 to 190

This study varied gender composition within mock juries in order to examine whether gender differences in individual judgment affected the jury decisionmaking process (deliberations and conviction rates) in a child sexual assault trial. As expected from previous research on individual mock juror judgments (Bottoms et al., in press), male and female jurors had different opinions of the case before deliberating as a jury; men favored defense arguments and women favored prosecution arguments. These predeliberation gender-related perspectives apparently led to distinctive strategies and voting patterns in the jury room. During deliberations, women had an approximately equal number of proprosecution and prodefense statements; whereas, men were more likely to make only prodefense statements, especially when the ultimate verdict was not guilty. Also, women were more likely than men to switch their vote in the course of deliberations. The switching of votes, however, was related to whether the jury was composed of a majority of women. When women were in the majority, mock jurors changed from a not-guilty to guilty verdict more often than did mock jurors who were on juries that did not have a female majority. When there was not a female majority, jurors changed from a guilty to not-guilty verdict more often. Female-majority juries rendered more guilty verdicts than did juries without a female majority. The sample consisted of 300 students (150 men and 150 women) enrolled in an introductory psychology class. There were 6 members in each mock jury and 10 juries of each type. The five types of juries consisted of two female-majority juries, two male-majority juries, and one jury with an equal number of men and women. The trial involved a defendant charged with sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl, with the prosecution's case based primarily on the alleged victim's testimony. 2 figures and 25 references

NCJ 218435
John Clark; Marcus T. Boccaccini; Beth Caillouet; William F. Chaplin
Five Factor Model Personality Traits, Jury Selection, and Case Outcomes in Criminal and Civil Cases
Criminal Justice and Behavior
Volume: 34 Issue:5 Dated: May 2007 Pages:641 to 660

This study examined the relation between Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits, jury selection, and case outcomes in deliberating juries from real criminal and civil cases. An overall pattern revealed by these analyses was that there were no significant differences in the personality traits of venire or summonsed members excused by the defense, excused by the prosecution/plaintiff, or selected to serve on juries. The study also suggests that attorneys may want to consider venire member extraversion, especially in criminal cases. Jurors in these cases reported higher levels of extraversion and conscientiousness than jurors in criminal cases who rendered guilty verdicts. Extraversion was also associated with being selected as a jury foreperson and foreperson extraversion was strongly associated with longer jury deliberation times. Contemporary jury research rarely examines personality traits and juror decisionmaking. More recent research, based on contemporary conceptualizations of personality, has identified promising effects for juror personality traits, especially in the context of deliberating juries. Actual venire/summonsed members (N=764) completed the FFM inventory before going through the jury selection process for 1 of 11 criminal or 17 civil trials. Tables, figure, references

NCJ 218422
Steven B. Duke; Ann Seung-Eun Lee; Chet K.W. Pager
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words: Conversational Versus Eyewitness Testimony in Criminal Convictions
American Criminal Law Review
Volume: 44 Issue:1 Dated: Winter 2007 Pages:1 to 52

This article compared the psychological processes and legal responses between eyewitness and conversational testimony in order to highlight the dangers of conversational testimony to the innocent. The comparative analysis of eyewitness versus conversational testimony indicated that witnesses providing conversational testimony are more susceptible to error than eye witnesses at each stage of the memory process: acquisition, retention, and retrieval. Moreover, the analysis highlighted the greater complexity involved in conversation compared to visual information in terms of the impact of the witnesses’ own personal biases and interpretations of the world. The author also points out that while eyewitness testimony is subjected to careful scrutiny in terms of data collection and presentation methods, no such legal processes or safeguards govern the sanctity of conversational testimony. The main reason for presenting the current research was to draw attention to the overlooked problem of conversational testimony, which research has shown is more common, more likely to be inaccurate, more likely to be believed by jurors, and more likely to produce irreversible errors than eyewitness testimony. While the author acknowledges that the legal system still needs to rely on conversational testimony to recreate events, there should be steps taken to reduce the danger of errors in such testimony. Reform efforts are suggested and include the requirement that interrogations of suspects be videotaped so that the jury could be permitted to observe the process through which confessions are obtained. The research relied on a literature review of research on conversational memory, which indicates that conversational memory is exceedingly poor and extremely malleable, and a review of the psychology of eyewitness versus conversational testimony. The analysis focuses on comparing the memory process of eyewitness and conversational evidence at each stage of the memory process: acquisition, retention, and retrieval. Footnotes

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