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Psychologists and Jury Selection - Term Paper Example

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To start with, the American legal system is unique for its use of scientific jury selection. Scientific jury selection involves the specific use of specific social science techniques in order to get the best favorable jurists for a particular trial…
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Psychologists and Jury Selection
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Download file to see previous pages The researcher states that in case such as Bruno Hauptmann, there could be strong public mood against the accused which could influence the jury to convict the innocent. Here, the jurists’ personality characteristics and traits might play an important role. In a media intensity society, it is particularly true as it often wages psychological wars to mobilize public opinion over what it considers as truth. The trial of O. J. Simpson was characterized by ‘continued media interest and public fascination with his actions and statements. The belief that “he got away with murder” even led to proposals to reform and restrict the jury system’. The certainty necessary to punish nay accused could be accumulated by the jurists based on their prejudices and worldview. Most importantly, according to Greene et.al, ‘truth is elusive, and in the legal system, all truth seekers are subject to human error, even though the system seems to assume that they approach infallibility. The failure to achieve perfection in our decision making will become evident as the steps in the trial process are reviewed’. Jury sentiments are directly a product of jurists’ opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Attorneys have two options for selecting new juries. First of all, a panel of prospective jurors need to be identified which is known as venire. Secondly, ‘a process known as voir dire is employed to question and select the eventual jurors’. It involves every jurist telling truth about himself/herself. This process naturally involves elimination as the jurists who hold biases over a particular case are dismissed from the trial. Only the ones who hold a free mind and free from limitations are selected. There is a difference between judges’ decisions and Juries’ decisions. It has been found that “citizens believe a jury decision offers more procedural fairness (greater thoroughness, better representation of the community, fewer personal biases affecting decisions) than a decision by a judge”. Jury sentiments are the major cause for the discrepancies in the judicial verdicts. In their famous survey, ‘Kalven and Zeisel, after reviewing the multitude of discrepancies, used this term to cover all trials in which, in the judge’s view, the jury’s verdict was detrimentally determined by factors beyond the evidence and the law’. Especially in victimless crimes, there could a stronger tendency for sentiments towards the culprit. In some cases, if the case gets more social importance through media intervention, the number of jurists may be relatively high. It is very difficult even to keep the jury selection procedure just as it would involve discrimination against minority religions, races, nationalities and other cognizable groups. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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