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Pre-trial print publicity in Australian print media : eliciting bias effects on juror decision making
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by K Douglas, Lynne ForsterleeLynne Forsterlee
Guided by the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) of information processing, this study investigated the impact of Pre-trial Publicity (PTP) (informational/emotional), and Crime Type (intentional/unintentional) as a measure of complexity on mock juror decision-making. Ninety-nine (35 male, 64 female) jury eligible (aged 18-65) members from within the Queensland population participated in this study. Participants read two newspaper articles that contained either informational publicity (such as prior convuctions), or emotional publicity (emotive details about the victim), followed by a trial transcript summary before rendering verdict and sentencing decisions. Overall the results of this study suggest that mock jurors are influenced in their information processing by extra-legal factors. The principal findings demonstrate that PTP seves as an extra-legal factor when jurors render their judgements. Participants exposed to emotional PTP render harsher sentencing decisions than participants exposed to informational publicity. Further, complexity, defined in this study by Crime Type, revealed that jurors tend to search for additional informationin the form of a heuristic cue PTP. Thus, the study found that mock jurors confronted with complex trial evidence and exposed to emotional PTP delivered harsher sentencing decisions.