Distribution by Scientific Domains

Kinds of Defendants

  • criminal defendant

  • Selected Abstracts

    The Dilemma of the Criminal Defendant with a Prior Record,Lessons from the Wrongfully Convicted

    John H. Blume
    This article examines the conventional wisdom that innocent defendants will testify on their own behalf at trial. Data gathered from the cases of persons subsequently exonerated due to DNA evidence demonstrate that factually innocent defendants with criminal records do not testify on their own behalf at substantially higher rates than criminal defendants generally. Why? Ninety-one percent of factually innocent defendants with prior records declined to testify compared to the 55 percent rate at which defendants with prior criminal records declined to testify in a four-county sample of criminal cases. Why the difference? In the innocence cases, the primary reason counsel give for not taking the stand is that many of these individuals had been previously convicted of a crime, and they did not testify at trial because of the risk that their credibility would be impeached with evidence of the prior record, and that, despite any limiting instruction the court might give, the jury would infer that they were guilty based on their prior misdeeds. If one assumes that the defendants in a four-county sample are guilty, and that both the innocence sample and the four-county sample are reasonably representative, then there is a statistically significant association between defendants with criminal records failing to testify and innocence. Because the current legal regime appears to disproportionately discourage defendants, even factually innocent defendants, from telling their story at trial, the law should be changed. Only prior convictions for perjury should be potentially available for impeachment purposes. [source]

    Alibi Believability: The Effect of Prior Convictions and Judicial Instructions

    Meredith Allison
    Undergraduates (N = 339) listened to a simulated police interview with a defendant concerning his alibi. We studied the impact of (a) the strength of the alibi evidence; (b) defendant's prior convictions; (c) judge's instructions on prior conviction evidence; and (d) perceivers' need for cognition (NFC) on alibi believability and defendant guilt ratings. Defendants previously convicted of the same crime as the current charge were seen as more likely to be guilty than defendants previously convicted of a different crime. Judge's instructions did not affect guilt ratings. NFC was less influential than anticipated, but did affect participants' understanding and recall of judicial instructions. Strong alibis were seen as more believable and led to lower guilt ratings than weak alibis. [source]

    Socioeconomic Status and Belief in a Just World: Sentencing of Criminal Defendants,

    Naomi J. Freeman
    The present study investigated whether defendants' socioeconomic status (SES) and jurors' beliefs in a just world affected punishment and blame decisions. The study's 273 participants completed the Just World Scale (Rubin & Peplau, 1975) and read a case scenario describing an aggravated murder. Participants rendered a verdict and answered questions concerning confidence, responsibility, and degree of guilt. Analyses partially supported the hypothesis. High believers in a just world were more likely to assign higher degrees of guilt and to sentence low SES defendants more severely than high SES or no SES information defendants. [source]

    Do Defendants Pay What Juries Award?

    Post-Verdict Haircuts in Texas Medical Malpractice Cases
    Legal scholars, legislators, policy advocates, and the news media frequently use jury verdicts to draw conclusions about the performance of the tort system. However, actual payouts can differ greatly from verdicts. We report evidence on post-verdict payouts from the most comprehensive longitudinal study of matched jury verdicts and payouts. Using data on all insured medical malpractice claims in Texas from 1988,2003 in which the plaintiff received at least $25,000 (in 1988 dollars) following a jury trial, we find that most jury awards received "haircuts." Seventy-five percent of plaintiffs received a payout less than the adjusted verdict (jury verdict plus prejudgment and postjudgment interest), 20 percent received the adjusted verdict (within ± 2 percent), and 5 percent received more than the adjusted verdict. Overall, plaintiffs received a mean (median) per-case haircut of 29 percent (19 percent), and an aggregate haircut of 56 percent, relative to the adjusted verdict. The larger the verdict, the more likely and larger the haircut. For cases with a positive adjusted verdict under $100,000, 47 percent of plaintiffs received a haircut, with a mean (median) per-case haircut of 8 percent (2 percent). For cases with an adjusted verdict larger than $2.5 million, 98 percent of plaintiffs received a haircut with a mean (median) per-case haircut of 56 percent (61 percent). Insurance policy limits are the most important factor in explaining haircuts. Caps on damages in death cases and caps on punitive damages are also important, but defendants often paid substantially less than the adjusted allowed verdict. Remittitur accounts for a small percentage of the haircuts. Punitive damage awards have only a small effect on payouts. Out-of-pocket payments by physicians are rare, never large, and usually unrelated to punitive damage awards. Most cases settle, presumably in the shadow of the outcome if the case were to be tried. That outcome is not the jury award, but the actual post-verdict payout. Because defendants rarely pay what juries award, jury verdicts alone do not provide a sufficient basis for claims about the performance of the tort system. [source]


    ECONOMIC INQUIRY, Issue 4 2007
    We study a model of civil dispute with delegation in which a plaintiff's lawyer works on a contingent-fee basis but a defendant's lawyer on an hourly fee basis. We first derive the condition under which delegation to the lawyers brings both litigants more payoffs compared with the case of no delegation. We then show that under this profitable delegation condition, the contingent-fee fraction for the plaintiff's lawyer is about one-third. Next, allowing the plaintiff to choose between the two fees, we show that under the profitable delegation condition, the plaintiff chooses the contingent fee, given that the defendant adopts the hourly fee. (JEL K41, K13, D74, D72) [source]


    FAMILY COURT REVIEW, Issue 1 2009
    Jonathan Scher
    Acknowledging the rapid growth of child sexual abuse in the United States, this Note advocates for the recognition of a limited exception to the blanket-hearsay ban on out-of-court statements made by unavailable declarants set out by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Washington. In order to protect a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation right, Crawford requires that hearsay evidence that is "testimonial" in nature be deemed inadmissible if the witness is unavailable and the defendant does not have a prior opportunity to cross-examine the witness against him. However, Crawford noted that, where nontestimonial hearsay is at issue, cross-examination may not be necessary. Accordingly, where a child sexual abuse victim makes statements during a structured or semi-structured forensic interview to a member of a multidisciplinary team, these statements should be deemed nontestimonial and thus admitted into evidence, without requiring cross-examination of the child. Allowing for this exception to the general hearsay ban in Crawford is not only consistent with current precedent, but it is also warranted to promote public policy and to curb the negative impact such abuse has on society. [source]

    Effects of Perceived Emotional Intensity on Mock Jurors' Murder/Manslaughter Distinctions

    Matthew P. Spackman
    Anglo-American law instructs jurors that defendants' emotions might constitute mitigating circumstances in murder/manslaughter cases. The present study examined which aspects of defendants' emotions mock jurors take into consideration when determining their murder/manslaughter verdicts. Four factors found to be predictive of perceptions of emotional intensity in previous research were shown to be predictive of murder/manslaughter convictions. These factors included whether the defendant had a history of violence with the victim, the particular emotion experienced, whether the defendant dwelt upon the feelings associated with his or her emotion, and whether the defendant intended the actions associated with his or her emotion. These findings are compared with two approaches that the law has taken to evaluate defendants' emotions: objective standards and subjective standards. Ramifications of these findings for jury instructions as well as for the law's conception of emotion are discussed. [source]

    Alibi Believability: The Effect of Prior Convictions and Judicial Instructions

    Meredith Allison
    Undergraduates (N = 339) listened to a simulated police interview with a defendant concerning his alibi. We studied the impact of (a) the strength of the alibi evidence; (b) defendant's prior convictions; (c) judge's instructions on prior conviction evidence; and (d) perceivers' need for cognition (NFC) on alibi believability and defendant guilt ratings. Defendants previously convicted of the same crime as the current charge were seen as more likely to be guilty than defendants previously convicted of a different crime. Judge's instructions did not affect guilt ratings. NFC was less influential than anticipated, but did affect participants' understanding and recall of judicial instructions. Strong alibis were seen as more believable and led to lower guilt ratings than weak alibis. [source]

    Effects of Interview Style and Witness Age on Perceptions of Children's Credibility in Sexual Abuse Cases

    Paola Castelli
    The present study concerned effects of interview style and victim age on perceptions of child victim/witnesses and defendant guilt. In 2 experiments, participants read written scenarios of child sexual abuse trials. The scenarios included a transcript of the child victim/ witness's forensic interview, in which questioning varied from less leading to highly leading. In Experiment 1, child age (4 years vs. 7 years) did not significantly influence guilt ratings, but mock jurors were less likely to convict the alleged perpetrator and less likely to rate the child as credible and reliable when testimony was elicited through a highly leading vs. an intermediately or less leading interview. The effect of interview style on guilt ratings replicated in Experiment 2 for a 4-year-old victim/witness but not a 7-year-old victim/witness. In both studies, women compared to men were more likely to convict the defendant and to believe the child. Implications for understanding jurors' reactions to child victim/witness testimony are discussed. [source]

    An Aiibi Witness' Influence on Mock Jurors' Verdicts,

    Scott E. Culhane
    The impact of alibi testimony on juror decision making is not yet clear because it has been examined empirically infrequently. This study was designed to determine the impact of alibi witness' testimony, the impact of an alibi witness with a relationship in comparison to one without a relationship to the defendant, and the impact of an eyewitness' confidence on juror decision making. Results indicated that mock jurors acquit a defendant more often when an alibi witness with no relationship to the defendant testified on his behalf. Participants did not believe an alibi witness who had a relationship with the defendant even though the witness was not a family member. Implications for these results are discussed. [source]

    Polygraph Evidence and Juror Judgments: The Effects of Corroborating Evidence,

    Bryan Myers
    A total of 169 college freshman were presented with a mock transcript of a sexual assault trial. We varied both polygraph expert testimony indicating that the defendant was deceptive (polygraph/no polygraph) and testimony by a medical expert and eyewitness who further corroborated the defendant's guilt (corroborating evidence/no corroborating evidence). Whereas the presence of corroborating evidence influenced verdicts as well as probability of commission (PC) estimates regarding the defendant, evidence of a failed polygraph test did not significantly influence verdicts or PC estimates, nor did the presentation of polygraph evidence interact with the corroborating evidence. [source]

    Child-Witness and Defendant Credibility: Child Evidence Presentation Mode and Judicial Instructions,

    Tania E. Eaton
    Child-witness presentation mode, judicial instructions, and deliberation stage effects on juror ratings of child witness and defendant were investigated Perceptions of the impact of presentation mode on witnesses, juror task, and justice also were explored. Participants (N= 108) viewed a simulated child sexual abuse trial videotape. Overall child-witness credibility was significantly more positive with videodeposition or court-given child evidence than with videolink. The defendant was seen as more definitely guilty when child testimony was court given than by videodeposition or videolink. Presentation mode also significantly influenced perceived impact on child witness, defendant case, and juror task. Judicial instructions interacted with presentation mode to affect perceptions of impact on child witness and juror task. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research, and implications for future research and practice are outlined. [source]

    Sexual Assault and Defendant/Victim Intoxication: Jurors' Perceptions of Guilt,

    The present research investigates how defendant and claimant intoxication operates in sexual-assault trials. Participants (N= 323) were provided with a description of a sexualassault trial in which the intoxication level (sober, moderate, extreme) of both parties was systematically varied. While the introduction of alcohol altered participants' perceptions of the case and of the parties involved, a complex interplay between the defendant's and complainant's level of intoxication was apparent. When the complainant was sober, harsher judgments were rendered when the defendant was intoxicated, particularly at the extreme level. In contrast, when the complainant was moderately intoxicated, more guilty verdicts occurred when the defendant was similarly inebriated. Finally, when the complainant was extremely intoxicated, the defendant's beverage consumption did not exert any discemible impact. Evaluations of both parties' abilities to self-regulate their behavior and for the female target to become sexually disinhibited were also influenced by the intoxication manipulation. [source]

    Juror Beliefs About Police Interrogations, False Confessions, and Expert Testimony

    Mark Costanzo
    Although there has been a rapid expansion in research on police interrogations and false confessions, little is known about the beliefs of potential jurors as to these issues. In collaboration with a trial research firm, we recruited 461 jury-eligible men and women who matched the demographic characteristics of jury pools in several states. Surrogate jurors responded to questions and statements in five areas: likely rates of false confessions for different crimes, the ability to discern true from false confessions, beliefs about false confessions, beliefs about permissible interrogation tactics, and beliefs about expert testimony on police interrogations. Results indicated that jurors believed that police interrogators are better than ordinary people at identifying lies and that this ability improves with experience. Jurors believed that they would be able to differentiate a true confession from a false confession by watching a videotape, but were less confident about making such a differentiation from an audio recording. A large majority of the sample reported that it would be helpful to hear expert testimony about interrogation techniques and reasons why a defendant might falsely confess to a crime. There were no significant gender differences. Compared to whites, nonwhite jurors had significantly less confidence in the abilities of the police and gave significantly higher estimates of false confession rates. Results are discussed in light of prior research and implications for jury decision making and expert testimony. [source]

    Estimating the Accuracy of Jury Verdicts

    Bruce D. Spencer
    Average accuracy of jury verdicts for a set of cases can be studied empirically and systematically even when the correct verdict cannot be known. The key is to obtain a second rating of the verdict, for example, the judge's, as in the recent study of criminal cases in the United States by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). That study, like the famous Kalven-Zeisel study, showed only modest judge-jury agreement. Simple estimates of jury accuracy can be developed from the judge-jury agreement rate; the judge's verdict is not taken as the gold standard. Although the estimates of accuracy are subject to error, under plausible conditions they tend to overestimate the average accuracy of jury verdicts. The jury verdict was estimated to be accurate in no more than 87 percent of the NCSC cases (which, however, should not be regarded as a representative sample with respect to jury accuracy). More refined estimates, including false conviction and false acquittal rates, are developed with models using stronger assumptions. For example, the conditional probability that the jury incorrectly convicts given that the defendant truly was not guilty (a "Type I error") was estimated at 0.25, with an estimated standard error (s.e.) of 0.07, the conditional probability that a jury incorrectly acquits given that the defendant truly was guilty ("Type II error") was estimated at 0.14 (s.e. 0.03), and the difference was estimated at 0.12 (s.e. 0.08). The estimated number of defendants in the NCSC cases who truly are not guilty but are convicted does seem to be smaller than the number who truly are guilty but are acquitted. The conditional probability of a wrongful conviction, given that the defendant was convicted, is estimated at 0.10 (s.e. 0.03). [source]

    The Cultural Defense as Courtroom Drama: The Enactment of Identity, Sameness, and Difference in Criminal Trial Discourse

    LAW & SOCIAL INQUIRY, Issue 1 2010
    Sigurd D'hondt
    This article traces cultural defense as a discursive realization-in-context, rather than as a legal-doctrinal figure, in a Belgian real-life criminal trial. In examining the defense plea for a Turkish man accused of battery, three discursive techniques are identified for making Cultural Otherness visible: de-individualization, reporting preparatory meetings with the client, and supplying ethnographic "expert" knowledge that transforms the client into the "object" of discourse. Apart from providing information about the defendant's background, cultural defenses also involve particular modes of behaviorally orienting toward the defendant in the courtroom. Otherness must be enacted in court, and to this end attorneys often actively disaffiliate themselves from their clients, marking them as impenetrable, mute, and unemancipated. In doing so, they draw extensively upon the indexical and iconic modalities of talk, which is convenient because the matrix of sameness and difference on which the cultural defense is founded escapes formal legal definition. [source]

    When Businesses Sue Each Other: An Empirical Study of State Court Litigation

    LAW & SOCIAL INQUIRY, Issue 3 2000
    Ross E. Cheit
    Using a mixture of court docket data and case files, we construct a data set of business litigation in Rhode Island Superior Court during 1987 and 1988. Business litigation is defined as a suit involving an economic firm as both a plaintiff and a defendant. The empirical analysis complements recent scholarship providing answers to descriptive questions about the frequency, nature of, parties to, and intensity of the business litigation docket. Using Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, indicators of industry participation in litigation are developed, and positive analysis undertaken to explain variation across industries. Several hypothesis are developed and tested using quantitative analysis. We conclude that contextual economic conditions favoring the creation of long-term business relationships help prevent litigation between firms. [source]

    The basis of the remoteness rule in contract

    LEGAL STUDIES, Issue 2 2008
    Andrew Robertson
    There is increasing support in the contract literature for the view that the remoteness rule is essentially concerned with identifying an implicit allocation of risk made by the contracting parties. This paper argues that the remoteness doctrine is more accurately seen as a method by which the courts allocate risks which the contracting parties have failed to allocate, rather than an interpretative rule. Through analysis of the principles and their application in the recent case-law in England, Canada and Australia, the paper shows that the identification of an implicit allocation of risk does not and cannot determine remoteness cases in contract. The justice of the remoteness rule is not based on the notion that the defendant undertook responsibility for the risk in question, but on a concern that the defendant should have a reasonable opportunity to consider the risks that might arise from breach and take action to avoid them. [source]

    Rights-based justifications for the tort of unlawful interference with economic relations

    LEGAL STUDIES, Issue 2 2008
    JW Neyers
    The tort of unlawful interference with economic relations is anomalous since it allows a plaintiff to sue a defendant for a loss that is occasioned by an unlawful act committed by that defendant against a third party. This parasitic liability is seemingly in violation of the basic tort law principle that in order to make out a claim what the plaintiff must show is a violation of her own rights, not merely a wrong to someone else. Thus, it appears that the tort is an instance of damnum absque injuria. This paper examines whether this is in fact the case by examining if there are any rights-based theories that can explain the tort in a way that is consistent with basic private law principle. In other words, is it possible to find an independent right of the defendant that has somehow been violated, one which explains why the defendant is able to sue in their own right? Upon examination, it appears that the ,right to trade', ,remoteness' and ,abuse of right' theories are largely incapable of providing such an explanation since they display many seemingly insurmountable problems of coherence and fit with the existing case-law. More promising are the arguments that the tort is a justified exception to basic principle or that it is an example of public rights being vindicated in private law, yet each of these theories is also problematic in some respects. The overall thesis of the paper is that the tort of unlawful interference with economic relations is radically under-theorised and that it, and the other economic torts, could benefit tremendously from more intense academic examination. [source]

    Psychiatric injury in breach of a relationship

    LEGAL STUDIES, Issue 1 2007
    Peter Handford
    The distinction between primary and secondary victims confirmed by Page v Smith has caused major problems in English psychiatric damage law. The House of Lords has suggested that the search for principle has been called off, and that the only sensible strategy is to say ,thus far and no farther'. This paper suggests that one way forward is to recognise that it is not only persons who are physically proximate to an ,accident' who should be put in a special category: any case in which there is some sort of pre-existing relationship between claimant and defendant should be regarded as different from the standard secondary victim scenario. The relationship concept, first recognised in the USA and now adopted by the Court of Appeal, can be found in embryo form in the early cases. [source]

    Lay Magistrates' Interpretations of ,Substantial Grounds' for Denying Bail

    Abstract: The main goal was to capture how decision makers interpret the phrase ,substantial grounds' for denying bail stated in the Bail Act 1976. It was found that magistrates who remanded the defendant into custody, judged the mean risks of the defendant absconding, offending on bail, and obstructing justice to be significantly greater than did those who bailed the defendant. Thus, the mean interpretation of ,substantial grounds' across magistrates was from 46% to 51% (on a 0% to 100% scale). However, there was great variability across magistrates. We discuss the implications of the present findings for encouraging consistent, transparent and justifiable interpretations of bail law. [source]

    The Assessment of Gain-Based Damages for Breach of Contract

    THE MODERN LAW REVIEW, Issue 4 2008
    Ralph Cunnington
    This article argues that there are two different measures of gain-based damages for breach of contract: the Wrotham Park measure and the Blake measure. The former is assessed by reference to the objective value of the benefit received by the defendant and the latter by reference to the defendant's subjective gain. In assessing Wrotham Park damages the courts apply a fixed formula, determining the price that a reasonable person in the position of the claimant might have demanded from the defendant at the time of breach for relaxing its rights under the contract. The Blake measure is different; it requires the defendant to disgorge the actual net profit received from the breach. Unlike the Wrotham Park measure, it deals only with positive and not negative gains. It is also limited by the doctrine of causation so that only those gains that are ,directly occasioned' by the breach are recoverable. [source]

    Turning a blind eye to double blind line-ups

    Daniel B. Wright
    Although psychologists have urged police officers to use double blind line-up procedures during their investigations, police officers state that these would be difficult to administer and most have been reluctant to implement this change. Four studies examine whether lay people's judgements about the guilt of a suspect vary according to whether a brief written summary of a case described the identification procedure as double blind or non-double blind. The effects were all small (and almost all non-significant). Most people do not treat double blind line-ups differently from non-double blind line-ups when assessing the guilt of a defendant. Either police investigators should stop using this biased method or police investigators and others in the judicial system (e.g. jurors, judges) should be informed of this bias when evaluating results from any line-up. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases: The effects of evidence, coherence and credentials on juror decision making

    Bianca Klettke
    Psychological experts have been used increasingly to testify in child sexual abuse cases, yet little research has investigated what specific factors make experts effective. This study examined the potential effects that credentials, evidence strength and coherence may have on juror decision making. Sixty-four mock jurors read cases of child sexual abuse, followed by experts' testimony and rated guilt of the defendant, effectiveness of the expert testimony and credibility of the victim. Evidence strength and coherence of the testimony affected all dependent variables, and the interaction was significant. Guilt ratings of the defendant were lower and the victim was rated as less credible when both evidence strength and coherence were low. The credentials of the expert, however, had negligible impact. These findings indicate that experts can be effective and impact jurors when testimony is either high in coherence or high in evidence. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    CCTV on trial: Matching video images with the defendant in the dock,

    Josh P. Davis
    The experiments reported in this paper investigated simultaneous identity matching of unfamiliar people physically present in person with moving video images typical of that captured by closed circuit television (CCTV). This simulates the decision faced by a jury in court when the identity of somebody caught on CCTV is disputed. Namely, ,is the defendant in the dock the person depicted in video'? In Experiment 1, the videos depicted medium-range views of a number of actor ,culprits'. Experiment 2 used similar quality images taken a year previously, some of which showed the culprits in disguise. Experiment 3 utilised high-quality close-up video images. It was consistently found that in both culprit-present and culprit-absent videos and in optimal conditions, matching the identity of a person in video can be highly susceptible to error. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Earwitnesses: effects of accent, retention and telephone

    José H. Kerstholt
    An experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of accent, telephone and a relatively long retention interval (3 or 8 weeks) on speaker identification. Three-hundred and sixty participants heard the target's voice and were asked to identify the target by means of a line-up consisting of 6 voices. Half of the participants were given a target-present line-up and the other half a target-absent line-up. The results showed that 24% of participants correctly identified the target in the target-present condition (hits), whereas 50% of participants incorrectly identified a person as the target in the target-absent condition (false alarms). The speaker with the standard-accented voice was more often correctly recognized than the speaker with the non-standard-accented voice. No difference was found between identification accuracy after one, three or eight weeks and between the telephone and non-telephone conditions. It can be concluded that there is a relatively high probability that an innocent defendant is identified as the perpetrator, even in a procedurally correct voice line-up (in this experiment 8%). Furthermore, reliability may be drastically reduced when the perpetrator has a strong accent, unfamiliar to the listener. On the other hand, reliability of a voice line-up seems not to be affected by a presentation over the telephone, as well as by a retention interval of at least 8 weeks. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Community sentiment and the juvenile offender: should juveniles charged with felony murder be waived into the adult criminal justice system?,

    Nicole M. Garberg M.S.
    Juveniles are more likely than adult offenders to commit crimes in groups. This tendency makes the juvenile offender more susceptible to the felony murder rule. In three experiments we tested the notion that juveniles arrested and charged under the felony murder rule would be transferred into the adult criminal justice system based on an equalistic (i.e. the application of the felony murder rule) or a proportional (i.e. the just deserts philosophy) rule. Participants read case descriptions of an armed robbery (no death, accidental death, or intentional death) in which defendants had different levels of involvement in the crime (getaway driver, lookout, sidekick, or triggerman). Involvement was manipulated within subjects in Experiment 1 (i.e., participants rendered judgments for each defendant) and between subjects in Experiment 2 (i.e., each participant judged one of the defendants). The participants in Experiments 1 and 2 were undergraduate psychology students selected from a public university located in the mid-west. The purpose of Experiment 3 was to determine whether the results of the first two experiments could be generalized to a community sample. The community sample was randomly selected from the rural and urban areas in the same geographical region as the university samples. The results indicated that the community participants were more likely to transfer the defendants to adult court than the student participants. However, the same pattern of results emerged for all of the samples, indicating that the triggerman was more likely to be transferred to adult court than the other defendants, especially if an intentional or accidental death occurred. These results support the conclusion that the defendants were transferred based on their involvement in the crime, thus supporting the proportional rule or the just deserts philosophy. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Reducing racial bias in the penalty phase of capital trials

    Netta Shaked-Schroer M.A.
    Past research (e.g. Lynch & Haney, 2000) has shown that race plays a significant role in juror decision making in the penalty phase of capital murder trials. This study investigates the possibility of reducing juror bias towards Blacks by altering the content of jury instructions. White and non-White participants received trial information and jury instructions in which the defendant's race (Black or White) and the instruction type (standard or simplified) were manipulated. Participants rendered a sentence recommendation, identified factors they considered to be aggravating or mitigating, and responded to instruction comprehension questions. Bias against the Black defendant was significantly reduced when simplified instructions were used and when the defendant was judged by racially diverse jurors. Simplification also led to better comprehension of sentencing instructions. Implications for capital trials are discussed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Determining dangerousness in sexually violent predator evaluations: cognitive,experiential self-theory and juror judgments of expert testimony

    Joel D. Lieberman Ph.D.
    Past research examining the effects of expert testimony on the future dangerousness of a defendant in death penalty sentencing found that jurors are more influenced by less scientific clinical expert testimony and tend to devalue scientific actuarial testimony. This study was designed to determine whether these findings extend to civil commitment trials for sexual offenders and to test a theoretical rationale for this effect. In addition, we investigated the influence of a recently developed innovation in risk assessment procedures, Guided Professional Judgment (GPJ) instruments. Consistent with a cognitive,experiential self-theory based explanation, mock jurors motivated to process information in an experiential condition were more influenced by clinical testimony, while mock jurors in a rational mode were more influenced by actuarial testimony. Participants responded to clinical and GPJ testimony in a similar manner. However, participants' gender exerted important interactive effects on dangerousness decisions, with male jurors showing the predicted effect while females did not. The policy implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Assessing the "evolving standards of decency:" perceptions of capital punishment for juveniles

    Rachel Kalbeitzer M.S.
    This study examines whether public opinion parallels recent judicial and statutory changes limiting the applicability of capital sentences to offenders younger than 18 years old. Two hundred and thirty-five undergraduate students were administered a vignette of a capital case and asked to render a sentence of death or life in prison without parole. Results revealed that age of the defendant was not a significant predictor of sentence type; participants sentenced 16- and 17-year-old defendants similarly to 18- and 25-year-old defendants. Therefore, public opinion appears inconsistent with legal and legislative changes to abandon the practice of executing juveniles. Findings also suggested that perceived level of the defendant's responsibility and general opinion about capital sentences significantly predicted sentence type; perceptions of greater responsibility were associated with an increased likelihood of a death sentence. However, participants did not perceive differences in responsibility between juvenile and adult defendants. In addition, participants were more comfortable sentencing defendants to death compared with life in prison. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]