Effects of Word Replacement on Juror Perceptions and Guilt Ratings During a Criminal Trial
Coons, Courtney A.
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This research was performed with the aim of improving the body of knowledge on juror perceptions during criminal trials. Three juries were formed of men and women at least 18 years old. The juries witnessed key excerpts of a criminal trial, either edited or unedited for content and then placed in a room for deliberation. Deliberations were videotaped and the juries had up to 45 minutes to return a verdict. Two juries viewed the content-edited trials, removing all instances of the word "rape". One of these juries was told of the editing, the other was not. After all juries had returned a verdict, each individual juror was asked to take an exit survey inquiring about their particular perceptions of the trial, and their personal conviction of guilt or lack thereof. All juries returned a verdict of 'not guilty' , however the exit surveys showed that more than 50% of the jurors that viewed the un-edited trial had an abiding conviction of guilt but rendered a not guilty verdict based on a lack of physical evidence. The content-edited conditions, however, had only 3 people between them that believed the defendant to be guilty of the crime of rape.