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Juror understanding of evidence

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Sue Hunter - Open University

Sue Hunter - Open University
Grant Walker & Samantha Whipp - Stirling University

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  • Shop owner stabbed with 7” knife outside his shop (coroner report) on the pavement between the van and the shop door
  • Café owner evidence & CCTV footage collaborate the driver’s evidence – in the shop when incident occurred
  • Shop owner stabbed with 7” knife outside his shop (coroner report) on the pavement between the van and the shop door
  • Defendant in this statement admits that he was there at the time of the incident.
  • Shop owner stabbed with 7” knife outside his shop (coroner report) on the pavement between the van and the shop door

Juror understanding of evidence Juror understanding of evidence Presentation Transcript

  • Juror understanding of evidence Sue Hunter Open University Grant Walker Samantha Whipp
  • Previous research
    • Pennington & Hastie (1986): Story model
    • Mock juror accounts varied systematically
    • in alignment with their chosen verdict
    • Is this a justification of verdict choice?
    • coherent temporal order for prosecution evidence
    • equal evidence recalled from both sides of argument.
    • Mock jurors were more likely to find defendant guilty
    • Quantity of supporting vs opposing evidence not important
    • Evidence coherence important - overall picture/inferences/ideas
    • Favours an Explanation – based decision model
    Wolfe & Pennington (2000)
    • Question:
    • If sense making is explanation-based:
    • Does the need for consistency (story coherence) lead to
    • confirmation bias? ….Do we want everything to ‘add up’?
    • What happens when subsequent evidence conflicts?
    • Do jurors assimilate the later information - do they hear it ?
    Jur or comprehension of evidence
    • Research question
    • In juror understanding of evidence
    • What role does relevancy play?
    • What role does visual presentation play?
    • Can a problem-solving focus be instigated?
    • Does the order in which evidence is presented matter?
    • 3 variables were manipulated
    Study 1
    • irrelevancies
    • do/do not influence juror understanding?
    • Mixed findings
    • Improve: Bell & Loftus (1989)
    • Inadmissable effect: London & Nunez (2000)
    • No effect: Borckhardt, Sprohge & Nash (2003)
    1. Relevancy
    • Sequential presentation is
    • susceptible to confirmation bias.
    • Simultaneous presentation is not
    • susceptible to confirmation bias.
    • Jonas et al (2000)
    2. Effect of presentation format
    • Deeper processing - higher memory performance
    • Craik & Tulving (1975)
    • Jurors as active rather than passive information processors
    3. Deeper levels of processing
    • Relevancy relevant
    • irrelevant
    • Presentation format simultaneous (visual) sequential (script)
    • Depth of Processing draw
    • no draw
    Independent variables
  • Hypotheses More evidence-based verdicts : Relevant conditions (relevant > irrelevant) Premise irrelevances act as distracters , increase cognitive load – would impair understanding
  • Hypotheses More evidence-based verdicts : Simultaneous presentation (visual > script) Premise encourages comparison of pieces of evidence – would reduce confirmation bias
  • Hypotheses More evidence-based verdicts : Deeper levels of processing ( draw > no-draw) Premise transposition of evidence would encourage problem solving – would improve understanding
  • north No 12 No 11 Rose Lane Participants were presented with a murder scenario Shop owner stabbed outside shop Café d’Artiste Flat 12a 1 st floor
    • Murder scenario based on
    • Scottish Law of Evidence
    • Auchie (2008)
    Law of Evidence
    • At least 2 pieces of evidence from independent sources, they must coincide
    • Fox v HMA (1998): “confirm or support”
    • Courts will identify the main (strongest) source of evidence and will ask if the weaker source confirms or supports it.
    Corroborated evidence
    • Sees man jump from the side door of a van
    • Raises arm - something metal in hand - brings down on victim’s chest
    • Victim falls to the ground
    • Assailant runs past the cyclist
    • Assailant wears red shirt
    • Assailant identified in an identity parade = defendant in court.
    Key witness – cyclist
    • Autopsy report:
    • cause of death - a wound to heart consistent with insertion of a 7”
    • knife blade in a vertical direction
    • Supports description of the attack
    • “ I then saw his arm come down on the victim’s chest”
    • CCTV:
    • showed the victim falling to the ground .
    • Supports key witness’s description
    • “ I saw the victim drop to the ground ”
    • 3. Defendant admitted he was there
    Corroboration with key witness
  • 5 witnesses & CCTV
    • Shopper
    • Café owner
    • Flat owner
    • Cyclist
    • Driver
    • CCTV
  • Each witness described different person different type of clothing different colour of clothing CONFIRMATION BIAS superficial processing lack of source monitoring witness person described by the witness description Cyclist attacker Red t-shirt Black beanie hat Café owner driver Denim jacket white shirt Shopper Shop owner (victim) Navy overalls Flat owner ‘ Someone’ Blue sweater Black hair
  • Problem solving evidence
    • Each witness testimony
    • had to be considered in relation
    • to evidence given by other witnesses
  • north No 12 No 11 Rose Lane CCTV + café owner support driver’s evidence – in shop before attack occurred
  • north No 12 No 11 Rose Lane CCTV Records shop owner falling to ground Does not record assailant – van blocks view
  • north No 12 No 11 Rose Lane Shopper enters shop 8.10 as victim leaves – supported by flat owner opposite – sees the shop owner approach van
  • north No 12 No 11 Rose Lane Café owner view obscured CCTV view obscured Flat owner had turned away from the window Shopper and Driver both in the shop Cyclist is the only witness
  • THOMAS ADRIAN BELL Accused v HER MAJESTY'S ADVOCATE High Court [2006] PKNB 53, 2006 SLCR 319 11 August 2006 Presiding: Lord Wilcox Brown Accused: Mr P Fingelstone, Solicitor Advocate; Osborn & Cox, Strathburn Crown Agent: Ms. R. Ennis, A.D.; Opinion of the court delivered by Lord Wilcox Brown. [1] The accused, Thomas Adrian Bell, is charged with the murder of Stuart Wouacott, the proprietor of the convenience store Eight Till Late, 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea. [2] The Charge is in the following terms: ‘ On the morning of 22 April 2006, immediately outside the entrance of the convenience store Eight Till Late, 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea…..you Thomas Adrian Bell did assault Stuart Wouacott of the flat above aforementioned address and did strike him on the chest with a knife or similar instrument whereby he sustained injuries from which he died in Stirgow General Hospital on that same day and did murder him.’ [3] The autopsy report from the Crown Coroner states that the cause of death was a wound to the heart consistent with the insertion of a 7” knife blade in a vertical direction between ribs 2 and 3. The knife was never found. [4] The accused has entered a plea of not guilty. The plea of not guilty was entered by the accused whereupon he stated “It wasn’t me Guv, your Highness, honest, A big Giza done it and ran away”. [5] In his submissions to this Court Mr. Fingelstone (Solicitor Advocate) took two grounds together. He reminded us that there was no dispute that the deceased had been murdered as alleged in the charge. The issue is whether the Crown can prove the accused as the culprit. He states in regard to this issue “the Crown case is a purely circumstantial one; there is no evidence directly implicating the accused.” Mr. Fingelstone then reminded us of the various pieces of evidence by reference to the police records and witness testimony’s. They are fully set out in the Report and are as follows: At 8.11am 22 of April 2006, Mr Stuart Wouacott was fatally wounded outside his shop at 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea. Prior to, and at the time of the incident, there was a white Vauxhall Luton van, registered number P956 PDP, parked immediately outside the entrance to the shop. A man was reported to have been seen running in a northerly direction after the event. Sue Hunter (55) stated that she was entering the convenience store, owned by the deceased, at precisely at 8.10 to buy bread & milk. She knew this was the time because she was listening to the news on her iPod and the presenter had announced the time as 8.10 . She noticed a man in a navy blue overall leaving the shop as she entered. In her statement she said she didn’t notice the man’s face and she didn’t hear anything because at the time of the incident she was at the back of the shop. Nichola Mayer (28) of number 2A Chat Noire apartments, above No 12 Rose Lane, on getting up for work stated she opened her blind and looked out into the Lane. Ms. Mayer observed, from her first floor window, that a bread delivery van was parked opposite. It is reported that she had noticed that there was no occupants in the driver cab of the vehicle. She saw Mr Stuart Wouacott leaving his shop and walk towards the van parked immediately outside. She also saw another man on the pavement before turning back into the room and going into the shower. She described the man as having black hair and a blue sweater. In questioning Mr. Fingelstone asked what time Nichola Mayer had woken In reply she stated that her alarm had gone off at 8 am, and she had immediately got up. She can’t be sure of the exact time but estimated she opened her blinds after the alarm went off at 8am but sometime before 8.15am Prior to, and at the time of the incident, Emily Baron (27) was opening the doors of her ‘Café De Artiste’ at number 12 Rose Lane and is reported to have been putting the table and chairs out for the day. She saw the bread delivery van parked opposite the convenience store as usual. The driver got out of his cab and walked around to the front of the vehicle before he disappeared round the side of the van. The police report shows the witness describing the driver as IC11 male between the ages of 25 and 30. He was of medium build and height. She described him as having dark hair. He was said to be wearing a blue jacket and a white shirt. She distinctly remembers he was wearing trainers. Gillian Kidd (20) entered Rose Lane. She knew it was after 8 am as she had heard the church clock strike prior to entering Rose Lane. In her testimony she stated that “I stopped to put on my bicycle clips as I had forgot to put them on earlier. As I stood up I saw a man jump from the side door of the van with his arm raised. In his hand I saw the glint of something metal. I then saw the arm come down on Mr Stuart Wouacott’s chest. I saw Mr Wouacott drop to the ground and the man ran north up the Lane past me”. She described the man as between 25 to 30, medium build and medium height. He was wearing a black “beanie” hat and she doesn’t remember seeing his hair. He wore a red shirt, denim jeans and sneakers. Gillian later identified the defendant as the assailant in an identity parade. That identification coincided with the appearance of the accused in the dock of the court Mr Graham O’Malley (45), driver of the Luton Vauxhall van stated he had already entered the shop to find his delivery contact, Mary Winter at the time of the incident. He did not see or hear anything. A CCTV recording shows the driver leaving the cab and walking into the shop. It also shows Stuart Wouacott falling to the ground, but it does not show any man jumping out the side door because the van obstructed the line of sight for the CCTV camera.
  • THOMAS ADRIAN BELL Accused v HER MAJESTY'S ADVOCATE High Court [2006] PKNB 53, 2006 SLCR 319 11 August 2006 Presiding: Lord Wilcox Brown Accused: Mr P Fingelstone, Solicitor Advocate; Osborn & Cox, Strathburn Crown Agent: Ms. R. Ennis, A.D.; Opinion of the court delivered by Lord Wilcox Brown. [1] The accused, Thomas Adrian Bell, is charged with the murder of Stuart Wouacott, the proprietor of the convenience store Eight Till Late, 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea. [2] The Charge is in the following terms: ‘ On the morning of 22 April 2006, immediately outside the entrance of the convenience store Eight Till Late, 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea…..you Thomas Adrian Bell did assault Stuart Wouacott of the flat above aforementioned address and did strike him on the chest with a knife or similar instrument whereby he sustained injuries from which he died in Stirgow General Hospital on that same day and did murder him.’ [3] The autopsy report from the Crown Coroner states that the cause of death was a wound to the heart consistent with the insertion of a 7” knife blade in a vertical direction between ribs 2 and 3. The kife was never found. [4] The accused has entered a plea of not guilty. The plea of not guilty was entered by the accused whereupon he stated “It wasn’t me Guv, your Highness, honest, A big Giza done it and ran away”. [5] In his submissions to this Court Mr. Fingelstone (Solicitor Advocate) took two grounds together. He reminded us that there was no dispute that the deceased had been murdered as alleged in the charge. The issue is whether the Crown can prove the accused as the culprit. He states in regard to this issue “the Crown case is a purely circumstantial one; there is no evidence directly implicating the accused.” Mr. Fingelstone then reminded us of the various pieces of evidence by reference to the police records and witness testimony’s. They are fully set out in the Report and are as follows: At 8.11am 22 of April 2006, Mr Stuart Wouacott was fatally wounded outside his shop at 11 Rose Lane, Stirgow by Sea. Prior to, and at the time of the incident, there was a white Vauxhall Luton van, registered number P956 PDP, parked immediately outside the entrance to the shop. A man was reported to have been seen running in a northerly direction after the event. Sue Hunter (55) stated that she was entering the convenience store, owned by the deceased, at precisely at 8.10 because she was listening to the news on her iPod and the presenter had announced the time as 8.10, to buy some bread and milk. She noticed a man in a navy blue overall leaving the shop as she entered. In her statement she said she didn’t notice the man’s face and she didn’t hear anything because at the time of the incident she was at the back of the shop. She did though add that she distinctly remembers tripping over as she entered the shop. She very nearly fell over. Gordon Lindsay (32) looked out his window at Number 11 Rose Lane, at 7.50 am onto the Lane and did not notice any parked vehicles. He did though notice a brown dog peeing against the shop wall on the opposite side of the Lane. Gordon Lindsay did though state he was feeling groggy because he was hung over from the previous evening’s events . Nichola Mayer (28) of number 2A Chat Noire apartments, 12 Rose Lane, on getting up for work stated she opened her blind and looked out into the Lane and as she did so she continued to eat her morning toast and marmalade. Ms. Mayer observed, from her first floor window, that a bread delivery van was parked opposite. It is reported that she had noticed that there was no occupants in the driver cab of the vehicle. She saw Mr Stuart Wouacott leaving his shop and walk towards the van parked immediately outside. She also saw another man on the pavement before turning back into the room and going into the shower. She described the man as having black hair and a blue sweater. In questioning Mr. Fingelstone asked what time Nichola Mayer had woken In reply she stated that her alarm had gone off at eight am, and she had immediately got up. She can’t be sure of the exact time but estimated she opened her blinds after the alarm went off at 8am but sometime before 8.15am. Tom Smith (62), at present of no fixed abode, had been sleeping overnight in the entrance to the Café De Artiste, No 12 Rose Lane. He noticed a van draw up as he left the doorway, but he has no idea what time that was except that it was before the cafe opened, as he had to leave before the owner arrived or she would have called the police to remove him. Prior to, and at the time of the incident, Emily Baron (27) was opening the doors of her ‘Café De Artiste’ at number 12 Rose Lane and is reported to have been putting the table and chairs out for the day. Emily Baron remarked that that particular morning she struggled more than usual to get the table and chairs into position because she had hurt her back the previous day when she tripped over a stray brown scruffy dog. She saw the bread delivery van parked in front of the convenience store door, as usual. The driver got out of his cab and walked around to the front of the vehicle before he disappeared round the side of the van. The police report shows the witness describing the driver as IC11 male between the ages of 25 and 30. He was of medium build and height. She described him as having dark hair. He was said to be wearing a blue jacket and a white shirt. She distinctly remembers he was wearing trainers. Gillian Kidd (20) entered the Lane. She knew it was after eight as she had heard the church clock strike prior to entering Rose Lane. In her testimony she stated that “ I was cycling along Rose Lane to go and meet my best friend Rachel McDonald to meet for breakfast in town , I stopped to put on my bicycle clips as I had forgot to put them on earlier. As I stood up I saw a man jump from the side door of the van with his arm raised. In his hand I saw the glint of something metal. I then saw the arm come down on Mr Stuart Wouacott’s chest. I saw Mr Wouacott drop to the ground and the man ran north up the alley past me”. She described the man as between 25 to 30, medium build and medium height. He was wearing a black “beanie” hat and she doesn’t remember seeing his hair. He wore a red shirt, denim jeans and sneakers. Gillian later identified the defendant as the assailant in an identity parade. That identification coincided with the appearance of the accused in the dock of the court Mr Graham O’Mally (45), driver of the Luton Vauxhall van stated he had already entered the shop to find his delivery contact, Mary Winter at the time of the incident. He did not see or hear anything. A CCTV recording shows the driver leaving the cab and walking into the shop. It also shows Stuart Wouacott falling to the ground, but it does not show any man jumping out the side door because the van obstructed the line of sight for the CCTV camera.
  • Relevant Visual board
  • Irrelevant Visual Board
  • north Incident Site No 12 No 11 Rose Lane Depth of Processing: DRAW
  • 160 participants Presentation format Simultaneous (visual) Sequential (script) Relevant Draw 20 20 No draw 20 20 Irrelevant Draw 20 20 No Draw 20 20
  • Procedure
    • Asked to read the Judge’s instruction & the evidence
    • Short distracter task
    • Free recall – type up as much of the evidence as you can
    • Rank witnesses, reason for ranking one witness 1 st
    • 12 direct questions and confidence
    • Verdict and reasoning
  • Dependent variables Main dependent variable: verdict type + Number of items recalled (total = 30) Number of evidence alterations ( saw out of the corner of her eye) Number of fabrications ( red was blood) Identified cyclist as key witness Reported CCTV evidence
  • Scottish Sample (n = 80) Verdicts based on evidence 1. guilty (cyclist saw) 10% 2. not guilty (one witness insufficient/no weapon/motive) 47% Verdicts not based on evidence 3. guilty (all witnesses saw) 9% 4. not guilty (different descriptions conflict - witnesses unreliable) 28% 5. not guilty (driver did it) 3% 6. not guilty (own theory) 3% Main Dependent variable = verdict type
  • Examples of verdict types
    • Evidence based 10%
    • guilty verdict – cyclist saw
    • “ based on the evidence that Gillian, yes,
    • because she seemed to have seen the attack”
    • Evidence based 47%
    • not-guilty verdict – insufficient evidence
    • “ cyclist had identified him but not guilty as cyclist
    • was the only person to see him and therefore not
    • enough evidence to convict”
    • “ knife was not found ”.
    • 3. Not evidence based Guilty verdict 9%
    • “ everyone saw him and thought he did it” ,
    • “ just the amount of people who had seen him”
    • original evidence changed : everyone having seen ‘blue’
    • Confirmation bias - superficial processing
    • Not evidence based:
    • Not-guilty verdict conflicting evidence 28%
    • “ other witnesses claimed that the accused was wearing a
    • predominantly blue clothing”………. Cyclist was wearing a red shirt, a
    • startling difference”
    • “ the eye witness reports didn’t match, I didn’t believe Gillian.”
    • Blue = common denominator (navy overalls, denim jacket, blue sweater)
    • Assumption: conflicting red shirt description (cyclist) must be wrong
    • Confirmation bias -- ignore different type of clothing
    • -- ignore different person is described
    • -- superficial processing
    • -- lack of source monitoring
    • 5. Not evidence based
    • Not-guilty verdict – driver did it 3%
    • “ I thought it was the van driver because the description of
    • the driver was that he was wearing jeans, a white shirt and
    • trainers. The Gillian see the incident but the shirt was red
    • because it was blood stained but the description was the
    • same as the van driver otherwise”
    • [but what happened to the denim jacket???]
    • 6. Not evidence based
    • Not guilty verdict – own theory 3%
    • “ No real evidence presented. Gillian report felt totally
    • outrageous – entered road on bend where a camera
    • couldn’t even see and only witness near by didn’t report
    • hearing anything like a struggle or an attack so I’m
    • thinking ….bread van……knife…..could have been an
    • accident.”
    • “ Of the opinion that there were 2 vans there as well”
    • Mean items recalled = 9 (5) low (total = 30)
    • Key witness = 88% high
    • CCTV = 4% amazingly low
    • Driver/and or CCTV = 18% low
    • Free recall
    • Reported less
    • Less explanation-based reasoning
    • Word Count: 65% of those with non-evidence based verdicts >150
    • 66% of those with evidence-based verdicts < 150
    • χ2 (1) = 7.167, p = .013
    • Fabrication intrusions : > 4 64% had own theory/driver verdicts
    • < 4 88% did not have own theory verdict
    • χ2 (1) = 16.867, p < .01
    Evidence-based jurors
  • Proportion of verdicts in each condition that were evidence-based 50% own theory verdicts BUT 30% refused to mark the plan Evidence -based All own theory verdicts occurred in script conditions
  • Highest evidence-based verdicts 80% relevant visual draw Lowest evidence-based verdicts 35% script irrelevant draw
  • Implications:
    • Remove irrelevancies
    • 45% fewer evidence based verdicts
    • ► explanation-based fabrication
    • Simultaneous presentation
    • 20% more evidence based than sequential presentation
    • Active transposition of simultaneous presentation
    • 30% more evidence based verdicts than sequential
    • Previous research debate:
    Study 2: Changed order of presentation Position of evidence First Last Recency effect Primacy effect Pennington 1982 realistic trial length Costabile & Klein (2005) Wiretapped confession incriminating defendant Kerstholt & Jackson (1998) Strongest prosecution evidence at end > guilty Furnham (1986) defendant end > not-guilty verdicts
    • USED: Script relevant
    • Key witness start/CCTV end (focal ►peripheral)
    • CCTV start/Key witness end (peripheral ►focal)
    Study 2: Changed order of presentation
  • 18.4% 11.9% Evidence Based Guilty Evidence based Not-guilty Not Evidence Based Guilty All saw Confirmation bias Not Evidence Based Not-Guilty Confirmation bias Not Evidence Based Not-Guilty Driver did Not Evidence Based Not-Guilty Own theory CCTV end 10.3% 47.4% 8.9% 28.2% 2.6% 2.6% CCTV start 28.7% 41.1% 4.6% 16.3% 3.9% 5.4%
  • Focal (key witness) evidence first Percentage of jurors correctly recalling each piece of evidence according to position in evidence. (n = 24) Evidence position Key witness evidence 8-14 Poor recall 19-25 CCTV 28-30 CCTV Not assailant CCTV driver Driver’s Evidence In shop
  • Peripheral (CCTV) evidence first Percentage of jurors correctly recalling each piece of evidence according to position in evidence. (n =112) driver CCTV victim fall Key central attack victim fall Key Jump van 15-23 CCTV 8-10 CCTV does not catch assailant
    • High recall of focal evidence irrespective of first/last position
    • Low recall of CCTV peripheral evidence irrespective of first/last position
    • But when peripheral evidence first
    • 18% reduction in confirmation bias
    • 11% increase in evidence-based guilty verdicts
    Order effects
    • Free Recall Reports
    • Guilty evidence-based ► victim falling CCTV
    • Not evidence-based ► no assailant on CCTV
    • Focus on different items of evidence
    • ‘ Selective remembering’
    Difference between guilty/not-guilty verdict jurors
    • Position of peripheral evidence is ► important
    • Elimination of ‘suspect’ (driver) reduced confusion
    • Reduced confirmation bias in sequential evidence
    Order effects
    • Position of peripheral evidence is ► important
    • Framing
    • effected interpretation of evidence as it emerged.
    • Focal evidence 1 st - did not attend to crucial peripheral evidence
    • Peripheral evidence 1 st attended to other witness statements
    • When peripheral evidence came first -
    • ‘ Story’ construction not dominated by focal action.
    • Consistent - Pennington & Hastie’s (1986) story model
    Order effects
    • Thank you for listening
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