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NCJ Number: 148608 Find in a Library
Title: Trial Complexity: A Field Investigation of its Meaning and its Effects
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1994)  Pages:29-51
Author(s): L Heuer; S Penrod
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: State Justice Institute
Alexandria, VA 22314
Grant Number: 88-06-F-C-018
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An experimental field study was conducted to examine the effects of trial complexity and trial procedures on juror performance in State and Federal courts.
Abstract: The research used a randomized factorial design with two levels of juror notetaking (present or absent), jurors' asking written question of witnesses (present or absent), and type of trial (civil or criminal). Juror question-asking and notetaking were randomly assigned to 75 civil trials and 85 criminal trials involving 103 judges. Judges and jurors completed questionnaires providing demographic information and evaluations of the trials, those involved in the trial, and the experimental procedures used. Completed questionnaires were received from 94 percent of the judges and 81 percent of the jurors who took part in these trials. The judges' responses revealed three components of trial complexity: the complexity of the evidence, the legal complexity, and the quantity of information. None of these components was significantly related to verdict agreement between judges and juries. Each component uniquely affected the jurors' assessment of the trial, but none affected the judges' or jurors' satisfaction with the verdict. Juror questions were found to be the most beneficial for assisting the jurors with legal and evidence complexity. The use of special verdict forms produced greater benefits to jurors than did other measures, including judges' comments, summarizing of the evidence, or judges' reliance on pattern instructions. Tables, footnotes, and 29 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Criminology; Juries; Jury decisionmaking; Jury research
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