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Witness Appeal

REACHING A VERDICT
by

Eloise P

on 3 May 2013

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Transcript of Witness Appeal

REACHING A
VERDICT WITNESS APPEAL ATTRACTIVENESS OF THE DEFENDANT:
CASTELLOW ET AL Background Dion, Berscheid and Walster 1972, found that people attributed more positive qualities to attractive people than to unattractive people. They were shown photographs and asked to rate people's personality characteristics on the basis of the pictures alone. The very favourable ratings of attractive people demonstrated the halo effect (what is beautiful is good) and assumptions are made on the basis of physical attributes alone and has been found to operate in the courtroom. Aim To test the hypothesis that juries make judgements about the personality and character of the defendant based on their appearance. Procedure Participants (mock juries) were asked to read the trial summary of a case in which a 23 year old secretary accused her male employer of sexual harassment. It was alleged that he repeatedly made sexual remarks, attempted to kiss and fondle her and described sexual acts he would like to share with her.
Participants were then shown photos of the defendant (employer) and the plaintiff (secretary) and asked whether to decide if he was guilty or not guilty. Results
Attractive Plaintiff/Defendant:

Attractive Plaintiff/Unattractive Defendant:

Unattractive Plaintiff/Attractive Defendant:

Unattractive Plaintiff/Defendant: % jurors found guilty 71%

83%


41%


69% Conclusion A guilty judgement was most likely when the female secretary was attractive and the employer was unattractive.
A guilty verdict was least likely when the secretary was unattractive and the employer was attractive.
It appears that the jury inferred that the defendant was less likely to be guilty if the plaintiff was unattractive. WITNESS CONFIDENCE:
PENROD AND CUTLER Background In court, whether a judgement is deemed trustworthy or not depends on how confident the witness is in what they are saying. Aim To examine several factors, including confidence, that jurors might consider when evaluating eyewitness identification evidence. Participants Undergraduates, eligible and also experienced jurors. Procedure A videotaped trial of a robbery was presented in which eyewitness identification played a key role.
The witness testified that she was either 80% or 100% confident that she had identified the robber.
Nine other variables were also included in the film at varying levels including the suspect being in disguise and weapon focus. Participants were either in the 100% or 80% confidence condition.After watching the video, they were asked to decide if the robber was guilty or not guilty. Results Witness confidence was the only significant effect out of all the variables.
When the witness was 100% confident, 67% returned a guilty verdict as opposed to only 60% voting guilty when the witness was 80% sure.
In a further 9 studies, Cutler looked at the correlation between confidence and accuracy and found a weak correlation of 0.00 to 0.20. Conclusion Confidence is a poor predictor of witness accuracy. Jurors trust in it is undiminished, even if judges advise the jury to be wary of it. ROSS ET AL Effects of shields and videotape on children giving evidence Background Providing evidence in court can be very stressful and traumatic for children. To try and reduce the emotional stress, evidence can now be provided behind a screen or via a video tape.
Davies and Noon 1991 found the video link method also showed consistency in answers being given by the children.
A problem is that the use of the shield or video link can often enhance or decrease the extent to which the Jury believe the child's testimony (credibility) Aim To examine the effects on conviction rates if children give evidence in sexual abuse cases in court, with a protective shield or via video link. Participants 300 students (150 male and 150 female). The majority were white and middle class. Procedure The jurors were shown a mock trial in which a father was accused of sexual abuse against his 10 year old daughter. The alleged abuse was a single touch whilst the child was in the bath and the case was to decide whether it was in an innocent or sexual nature.
The video lasted 2 hours and was based on the actual court transcripts and recorded in a real court room using legal professionals.
The IV was the way the child gave her evidence: In court in front of the defendant, In court with a protective shield or via a video link. Study 1 Study 2 Participants watched the whole trial which included evidence from two expert witnesses, the child's mother and the accused father as well as the child. The jurors were then asked to judge the guilt of the defendant.

The type of testimony had no effect on conviction rates although women gave a guilty verdict more than males. The same procedure was followed with a new sample of 300 students. However the video was stopped immediately after the child gave her evidence and the participants were asked to make their judgements at this point. When evidence was given in open court, more convictions were returned than in the protective shield and video link conditions.
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