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Behind closed doors: the effect of pretrial publicity on jury deliberations

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Content analyses of 30 mock-jury deliberations were performed to explore whether pretrial publicity (PTP) affects the content of jury deliberations. The pattern of results suggests that PTP has a powerful effect on jury verdicts and that PTP exposure can influence the interpretation and discussion of trial evidence during deliberations. Jurors who were exposed to negative PTP (anti-defendant) were significantly more likely than their non-exposed counterparts to discuss ambiguous trial facts in a manner that supported the prosecution's case, but rarely discussed them in a manner that supported the defense's case. This study also found that PTP exposed jurors were either unwilling or unable to adhere to instructions admonishing them not to discuss PTP and rarely corrected jury members who mentioned PTP. Finally, this research provides insight into how PTP imparts its biasing effect on jury decision making.

Keywords: decision making; jury decision making; jury deliberation effects; mock juries; pretrial juror bias

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology,University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, USA

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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