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Law enforcement officers serving as jurors: Guilty because charged?

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Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is unwise for a criminal defense lawyer to allow a law enforcement officer, former law enforcement officer, or relative/close friend of an officer to serve as a juror. This project examined the decisions of 2853 jurors of whom 235 reported being or having been a law enforcement officer and 1348 reported knowing a close friend or relative who is or was an officer. Participants watched a videotape of a trial of a burglary of a habitation and were asked to give individual verdicts. Results indicated that the average conviction rate was 57.6%. Past and present officers did not differ in their conviction rate from non-officer jurors. Jurors who indicated knowing a past or present law enforcement officer did not convict the defendant more than those who did not know anyone in law enforcement. Implications for this research are discussed.
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Keywords: Juror decision making; Schema Theory; law enforcement officers; voir dire

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Law and Human Behaviour, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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