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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 62657 Find in a Library
Title: COMPREHENSION OF JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN A SIMULATED CANADIAN COURT - A REPORT TO THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF CANADA (FROM STUDIES ON THE JURY - CANADA, 1979 - SEE NCJ-62650)
Author(s): C S JONES; E MYERS
Corporate Author: Law Reform Cmssn of Canada
Canada
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 88
Sponsoring Agency: Law Reform Cmssn of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OL6, Canada
Type: Statistics
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: AN EXPERIMENT IS PRESENTED TO TEST WHETHER JURIES CAN GENERALLY BETTER COMPREHEND JURY CHARGES WHEN THE CHARGE IS FORMULATED ACCORDING TO LINGUISTIC PRINCIPLES RELATING TO COMPREHENSIBILITY.
Abstract: IN THIS SIMULATED JURY SITUATION, TWO CHARGES WERE FORMULATED ON A HYPOTHETICAL CASE. SIX JURIES, USUALLY CONSISTING OF SIX MEMBERS EACH, WERE GIVEN THE ORIGINAL CHARGE THAT DID NOT BENEFIT FROM THE REVISION ACCORDING TO THE PRINCIPLES OF CONSTRUCTION (E.G., SENTENCE STRUCTURE, LEXICAL COMPLEXITY, ORGANIZATION, AND PRESENTATION), AND FOUR JURIES RECEIVED THE CHARGE THAT WAS REVISED ACCORDING TO THOSE PRINCIPLES. THE CASE CHOSEN FOR SIMULATION INVOLVED THE DEFENSE OF PROVOCATION. THE FACTS WERE STRAIGHTFORWARD. THE MAJOR DIFFICULTIES WITH THE ORIGINAL CHARGE, IN TERMS OF FACTORS CONSIDERED IN THIS STUDY, LAY IN THE USE OF CITATIONS FROM THE CRIMINAL CODE; THAT FAULT IS COMMON TO ALL CHARGES. SINCE THE REFORMULATIONS REPORTED ON PRINCIPALLY REPLACE THESE CITATIONS, PART OF THIS EXERCISE IS TO DEMONSTRATE HOW PATTERNED OR STANDARDIZED INSTRUCTIONS CAN BE SUBSTITUTED FOR THE PRESENT PRACTICE OF READING THE COURTS OF APPEAL. PARTICIPANTS WERE SELECTED FROM THOSE NAMES ALREADY ON THE JURY ROLLS IN THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON, ONTARIO. IN ALL, 59 JURORS PARTICIPATED IN THE EXPERIMENT. FINDINGS SHOW THAT THE REFORMULATED CHARGE DOES LEAD TO INCREASED COMPREHENSION OF THE RELEVANT LEGAL ISSUES AS MEASURED BY THE STUDY QUESTIONNNAIRE. IN ADDITION, THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TYPE OF CHARGE HEARD AND THE ABILITY TO ARRIVE AT A CORRECT VERDICT BASED ON THE JUROR'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE FACTS. ALL OF THE JURORS HEARING THE REFORMULATED CHARGE CORRECTLY APPLIED THE LAW TO THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FACTS; 16 PERCENT OF THE JURORS WHO HEARD THE ORIGINAL CHARGE INCORRECTLY APPLIED TO THE LAW. THE IMPROVEMENTS WAS MOST PRONOUNCED FOR THOSE WHO HAD NOT HAD AN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION. THE DIFFERENCE IN CHARGE HOLDS EVEN IF ONLY THOSE WHOSE NATIVE LANGUAGE IS ENGLISH ARE CONSIDERED. TABULAR STATISTICAL DATA, ENDNOTES, REFERENCES, AND APPENDIXES ARE INCLUDED. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LWM)
Index Term(s): Canada; Criminal proceedings; Juries; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Simulation; Statistical analysis; Studies; Trials; Verdicts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=62657

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