University of Tasmania
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Provided notes as an alternative to juror notetaking : the effects of deliberation & trial complexity

posted on 2023-05-27, 06:03 authored by Kelly, EL
To improve jurors' ability to understand complex trials and render appropriate verdicts, a number of comprehension aids have been subjected to empirical examination, including preinstruction, notetaking, transcript access and flowcharts. This research has often failed to provide a definitive indication of the relative efficacy of these aids, and there is no consistent approach to their implementation and use in the courtroom (Ogloff, Clough, Goodman-Delahunty, & Young, 2006). The current series of studies aimed to explore novel approaches by investigating the efficacy of a collection of court-provided materials (provided notes), including some which have been previously exposed to empirical analysis (trial transcript, written copy of judicial instructions and verdict flowcharts) and some new materials (offence criteria and chronology of events). Unlike previous experiments in the area, there was greater focus on combining several jury-aids rather than testing their efficacy in isolation (Ellsworth & Reifman, 2000). This combination of court-prepared jury-aids was expected to provide a balanced and comprehensive presentation of both the facts and the law, allow opportunities for multiple exposure (Bourgeois, Horowitz, & ForsterLee, 1993), and encourage systematic, central route information processing to ultimately enhance juror comprehension of a mock criminal trial (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The 4 experiments in this series employed the jury simulation research paradigm. Participants were exposed to a mock criminal trial presented on a DVD and required to complete a multiple choice questionnaire measuring comprehension of the facts and law of the case while accessing different note types. The first experiment compared the efficacy of jurors' own notes and provided notes, and the second study was designed to justify the inclusion of supplementary court-prepared materials by separating the remaining components of the provided notes package from the trial transcript component. Experiment 3 focused on the impact of group-work anticipation and the deliberation process itself on participants utilising own or provided notes, and the final study examined the impact of differing dimensions of trial complexity on the comparative utility of own and provided notes. Taken together, this series of experiments demonstrated that participants were able to make use of a collection of court-prepared provided materials to achieve significantly higher scores on objective measures of fact and law comprehension than participants who utilised notes they had taken themselves. This superiority of provided notes over own notes was firmly established, suggesting that provided notes should be viewed as a potential alternative to jurors' own notes in the ongoing pursuit of improving juror comprehension.


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