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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 211000 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Testing the Effects of Selected Jury Trial Innovations on Juror Comprehension of Contested mtDNA Evidence: Final Technical Report
Author(s): B. Michael Dann; Valerie P. Hans; David H. Kaye
Date Published: December 2004
Page Count: 198
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Rockville, MD 20849
Grant Number: 2002-IJ-CX-0026
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Dataset: DATASET 1
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined whether the use of several jury reform techniques improved juror understanding of expert testimony about mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
Abstract: Innovative trial procedures have been advocated by judges, scholars, and jury reform commissions over the past decade in order to assist jurors in their understanding of complex testimony presented during trials. Reform suggestions range from simple juror note taking to more controversial suggestions such as allowing jurors to question witnesses or permit jurors to discuss the case with one another during the course of the trial. While some reform suggestions seem promising, there is scant research on their impact in the courtroom. The current study explored the use of several jury reform techniques through the use of a controlled mock trial approach. A total of 60 mock juries were run in which jury pool members watched a videotaped armed robbery trial featuring conflicting expert testimony about mtDNA. Some juries simply watched the videotape before deliberating on a verdict, while other juries were allowed to take notes, ask questions relating to the expert testimony, use a checklist, or refer to jury notebooks containing information about mtDNA in the case under question. Results indicated that jurors appreciated the use of innovations and reported that all four innovations aided in their understanding and recall of mtDNA testimony. Statistical analyses of juror comprehension provided mixed results: in some analyses the use of notebooks and a checklist improved juror comprehension whereas in other analyses, no effects on juror comprehension were observed. Suggestions are offered for the presentation of complex evidence in jury trials, including the recommendations to distribute a checklist or inference chart listing the issues presented by complex evidence and to distribute a collection of the expert’s slides, overheads, charts, and other supplementary materials. Footnotes, tables, figures, appendixes
Main Term(s): Jury research; NIJ grant-related documents
Index Term(s): Juror instructional materials; Jury decisionmaking; NIJ final report
Note: Dataset may be archived by the NIJ Data Resources Program at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data
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