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L1- Psych & Law.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2990A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Psychology and the Law Chapter 1: An Introoduction The Canadian Jury: Selecting 12 Representative and Impartial Peers Part 1: How common are jury trials? -relatively rare (even though we believe it is common) -2 types of trials: 1. civil trial (disputes between citizens/groups) -ex: suing someone, dispute between you and your roommate or another person, etc. -no absolute right to a jury trial (depends on provincial legislation) -ex: allowed in Ontario but not in Quebec (however even though they are allowed they are still rare. In quebec, it will just be a judge alone. No jury0 2. criminal trials (offences against the crown) (lol against the queen, her crown and dignity- this is what is means by against the crown) -constitutional (charter) right to a jury trial – extends to only some criminal offences: -only for more serious offences (penality of 5 years or more in prison) Part 2: Role of Juries -they apply the law (as defined by judges) -to the admissible evidence, and -render an unamimous verdict of guilty or not guilty ALSO: (unspoken assumption) -juries “represent the community where the crime occurs” (adds legitimacy and public acceptance to verdicts)  same area of where they live and where it happened -serve as “conscious” of community (can guard against laws perceived to be unfair; ex: Dr. Morgentaler and abortion laws when 4 or 5 juries did not find him guilty of performing abortions in private clinic, the Canadian government changed the law so that this was no longer illegal. Because in all these juries, they took the “moral” view he should not be guilty if he is trying to help people even though it is illegal Part 3: Two Characteristics of a “good” jury a. representative of a community where the crime occurred: the jury must resemble the community 1. “typical” selection procedure: -obtain list of people in community (ex: voter registration; census; local phone book)  “jury pool” -randomly select people from pool (ex 100)  “jury panel” (subgroup of the jury pool, they are actually called in) -each person on panel is sent a jury summons (court order to appear for jury duty) -if you ignore jury summon, you can get fined, it is an illegal offence -given number and placed in jury room -can’t eat or talk in this room -numbers are randomly selected (12 in criminal trials; 6 in civil trials) these people “usually” become jurors UNLESS: (2 reasons) 2. things that can keep people off a jury: a. not eligible for jury duty (varies by province) ex: In Ontario: Must be -canadian citizen; live in Ontario; 18+ Must not be: -member of House of Commons, senate; -judge, lawyer, law student, police officer; -Medical doctor, vet, coroner, a disability; ex-con *In Canada, when selecting jury pool sent out eligibility. Once that is sent back, the panel can be decided. (this is for efficiency, do not want panel to be not able to participate) b. being challenged by one of the lawyers (see below) -if successful, person is sent back to jury room (might be selected for another trial) 3. things to note about selection procedure: -no guarantee that jury will be representative -ex: biased “pool” (ex no homeless people) - a and b above limit representativeness -lawyers can appeal verdict (get new trial) if it can be proved that jury was NOT representative in “important” way -more popular in some native trials where there were not enough native Canadians in the jury (some trials had no natives- that is why jury not seen as legitimate, esp when trial is about native Canadians) b. Juries must be Impartial or Unbiased 1. Involves three issues: (a) can set aside all pre-existing biases (prejudges; attitudes about type of crime) (b) must ignore all inadmissible evidence (ex things reported in the media) (c) no connection to accused; no personal interest in a particular outcome of the trial 2. Steps taken to ensure impartiality: -jurors swear oath to be impartial, (they will also be reminded by judge before trial) -12 jurors (cancels-out biases of any single juror; see p. 27-28) -jurors can’t discuss deliberations after trial is over (It is a criminal offence!); not like in US!  prevent people from trying to get on trial after study: (on murder)- they could talk about deliberation for 6 weeks – no money or gifts, after 6 weeks could sell it. Cannot do this in Canada -courts impose publication bans after prelim inquiry (limits what media can report) – prevents bias in jury pools? (do not want possible jurors to be influenced by what media is saying) -ex: confession made (not legitimate) and should not get into media. Imagine how influenced people would be Part 4: Are publication bans effective in preventing bias? a. Do bans prevent biased info from being published? NOT ALWAYS: -info is published BEFORE ban is imposed (ex: bodies on pickton’s pig farm: published right away, way before pickton was charged, publication ban was imposed but it was too late) -info is published AFTER ban is imposed (American web sites and TV; ex: Bernardo – guilty killing two girls in st catherines. Easy to get info from American sites and news reports.) b(1). can jurors ignore biased pretrial publicity? Need to conduct research Interlude: research methods for studying juries 1. interview actual jurors (cannot do this in Canada, can do it in US) 2. use simulated (“mock”) juries, ex:  recruit U students (or people from jury pool)  randomly assigned to one of two groups:  Group 1 recieves biased pretrial publicity  Group 2 receives no biased pretrial publicity  both groups exposed to same trial evidence (can r
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