Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2013 Rachel K. Darby
The use of protective testimonial aids by the child witness has been advocated for as research indicates that it decreases witness stress and suggestibility; however, the use of such aids has also been attacked as incompatible with the defendant’s confrontational right and the fact-finding function of the jury. The present study examines the effects of testimony modality, as well as empathy-inducing closing arguments, on juror perceptions of the child witness, perceptions of the defendant, and ultimate judgments of guilt. In this between-subjects factorial study, workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk were invited to participate in an online simulated sexual assault case survey. Participants read all trial stimuli, which consisted of written juror instructions, case facts, testimonies, closing arguments, and legal definitions. In addition, participants were exposed to photographs depicting the child witness testifying under one of three possible conditions (direct, shielded, CCTV) and either read the prosecutor’s closing argument that contained a specific empathy-inducing portion or did not. Results indicated that regardless of testimony modality and empathy-inducing closing arguments, jurors did not exhibit a pro-prosecution or pro-defense bias.
Darby, Rachel K., "Compromising Face-to-Face Confrontation: Does the Protected Child Witness Threaten Impartial Juror Decision-Making?" (2013). Scripps Senior Theses. 224.