Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor's Name

Brian L. Cutler

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Gary Moran

Third Advisor's Name

Ronald Fisher

Fourth Advisor's Name

Paul Foos

Fifth Advisor's Name

Barry Crown

Sixth Advisor's Name

Peter Craumer

Keywords

Jury selection -- United States, Fair trial -- United States, Free press and fair trial -- United States

Date of Defense

7-1990

Abstract

The present study asked two important questions: Does prejudicial pretrial publicity produce bias which may impair juror objectivity and, if it does, can voir dire remedy its untoward effects? Subjects were 68 college undergraduates whose political attitudes had been assessed and who had or had not read case-specific pretrial publicity one week before viewing a murder trial. Trial proceedings took place at the University of Miami law school. Voir dire, trial viewing, and deliberations were conducted in UM's moot courtroom. As predicted, analyses revealed main effects for both voir dire and pretrial publicity such that pretrial publicity increased conviction rate and the extended voir dire decreased conviction rate, but the extended voir dire failed to reduce the specific prejudicial effect of pretrial publicity. These findings suggest that prejudgment of a general nature (e.g., confusion about legal concepts) may be neutralized by an extended voir dire but that prejudice specifically created by exposure to inflammatory news stories is not offset by an extended voir dire format. There is reason to believe, however, that with more time spent explaining case facts and with greater attention to individual jurors, voir dire could eliminate even the specific prejudice created by pretrial publicity.

Identifier

FI14062257

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