People are "contract formalists" (a) putting excessive weight on contracts' written terms (as compared to oral agreements), (b) believing that contracts are formed primarily through formalities such as signature and payment (even though contract law does not require such formalities), and (c) believing that a signed agreement obligates parties to abide by its terms (even when the agreement's terms go unread, the contract is unreasonably lengthy, or the terms are one-sided or unfair) (Wilkinson-Ryan, 2014; Wilkinson-Ryan and Hoffman, 2015). Said differently, people hold signees to a written contract's terms, even when the terms are buried in the fine print of
Incivility in the courtroom is a widespread phenomenon that has myriad causes and takes myriad forms. Attorney rudeness, hostility, intimidation, personal attacks, unnecessary combativeness, poor manners and overzealous advocacy are examples of "Rambo Litigation" that violates norms of both courtroom decorum and mutual respect, and yet frequently occurs. Incivility increases judges' stress (Miller et al., 2021) and causes negative emotions in observers (e.g., anxiety, anger, disgust, fear) (see, for review, Edwards, 2022). Are jurors similarly affected by attorney incivility and, if so, does attorney incivility influence jurors' verdicts? Edwards (2022) examined how attorney incivility in the courtroom affected jurors' emotions,
A LGBTQ+ panic defense is a legal strategy that asks jurors, directly or implicitly, to consider a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to explain a criminal defendant's violent reaction, including murder... Recent research has sought to identify characteristics of jurors that predispose them to finding a LGBTQ+ panic defense legitimate....
Do context-related nonprobative photos help or hurt a witness' credibility? | Online Jury Research Update
hile information nonprobative to the truth of a statement is not admissible in court, it nonetheless often is presented as a part of probative evidence. .. Research has found that when judging the truth value of a statement, people's sense of the truth is affected by nonprobative information. For example, people are more likely to say a statement is true when accompanied by a context-related photo than when no photo is present... This "truthiness" effect reflects the influence of information nonprobative of the truth on people's judgments of truth. Derksen and colleagues (2020) conducted two experiments exploring the role of
How do jurors weigh opinions of forensic experts pre-exposed to case information? | Online Jury Research Update
In 2015, the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) affirmed that forensic examiners should draw conclusions solely from the physical evidence and not from any other evidence in the case. A suspect's criminal history, confession or alibi do not involve assessment of the physical evidence, and examiners are urged to be blind to such task-irrelevant information to prevent biasing their conclusions about the evidence. While over 70% of forensic examiners believe they can mitigate any bias from task-irrelevant case information simply by ignoring their expectations (Kukucka et al., 2017), scientific research overwhelming has found that knowledge of task-irrelevant case information
To prevent the biasing influence of information obtained outside the courtroom, courts often issue instructions to jurors that limit or prohibit certain activities during the trial and when deliberating. Despite these instructions, internet-based juror misconduct occurs. Carstens Namie (2019) examined the effectiveness of different types of judicial instructions about use of the internet and digital communications (e.g., social media, blogs, email, texting) on internet-based juror misconduct....
Experts differ both in their expertise and their interpersonal style. An expert can offer higher or lower quality evidence than other experts, and can have a more or less likeable style than other experts. How does likeability affect an expert's persuasiveness? Does a likeable expert make weak evidence more persuasive? Is strong evidence less persuasive when presented by a dislikeable expert? Is a dislikeable expert with strong evidence more persuasive than a likeable expert with weak evience? Younan and Matire (2021) investigated the impact of expert evidence quality and expert likeability on expert persuasiveness in two studies....
Attorneys are perceived as credible or non-credible trial attorneys based on the behaviors they enact during trial. Attorney credibility at trial has been assessed by behavioral measurement of an attorney's persuasion, critical listening, oral expression, physical presence, interpersonal interaction, speech clarity, organization, adaptability, synthesis and social perceptiveness ... The issue is this: How does attorney credibility matter? For example: Does attorney credibility affect verdicts? Do credible attorneys make weak cases stronger? Do strong cases win even if the attorney is non-credible? Wood and colleagues (2019) examined the relationship of attorney credibility and evidence strength on mock jurors' civil litigation verdicts
Can the impact on jurors of alcohol use be reduced in dangerous driving cases? Online Jury Research Update
Dangerous driving resulting in the death of another person is judged more harshly by jurors when alcohol is involved. Dolnik and colleagues (2003) investigated what might limit the impact of a defendant's alcohol use in a criminal case involving dangerous driving (speeding) that occasioned death. The case involved a defendant driving home from a party when a head-on collision occurred between two cars in which a young woman died and the defendant suffered only minor injuries. Mock jurors read a case summary that included testimony from both prosecution witnesses (a forensic police expert who examined the accident scene, ambulance officer,
Does judicial rehabilitative questioning debias jurors in child sex abuse cases? Online Jury Research Update
Judicial rehabilitative questioning of jurors during voir dire is intended to ensure that biasing attitudes, beliefs and experiences of jurors will not influence their verdicts. Rehabilitative questioning serves as a buffer to possible juror bias. Judicial rehabilitative questioning can be considered to be an effective buffer if, after questioning and juror affirmation of the ability to set aside any bias and follow the law, jurors both with and without the biasing beliefs and experiences reach similar verdicts (i.e., based on case evidence and not their beliefs or experiences). Castrogiovanni (2022) studied the sufficiency of judicial rehabilitative questioning in voir dire