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PSYC 241 Ch12 Law.pdf

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PSYC 241
Roderick C L Lindsay

PSYC  241  –  Law     Chapter  12     Law     This  schematic  demonstrates   how  cases  move  through  the   criminal  justice  system.       As  you  can  see  the  trial  is  only   one  part  of  the  criminal  justice   system.                                 Jury  Selection     Process  of  jury  selection:   1. Court  compiles  a  master  list  of  eligible  jury  members  that  live  in  the  community.   2. Names  are  randomly  taken  from  the  master  list.   3. Individuals  who  have  been  selected  go  through  a  pretrial  interview  with  the  judge  and   lawyers  to  be  screened  for  signs  of  bias  (this  interview  is  called  a  voir  dire,  see  next).     Voir  dire:    pretrial  interview  conducted  by  a  judge  and  lawyers  to  screen  potential  jury  members   for  bias.       Preemptory  challenges:  each  lawyer  can  reject  a  limited  number  of  potential  jury  members   without  having  to  cite  a  reason,  even  if  the  candidate  seems  fair  and  open-­‐minded.       Preemptory  challenges  are  of  particular  interest  to  social  psychologists  because  most  often   lawyers  draw  from  stereotypes  to  choose  the  jury  that  best  suits  their  client.  This  includes  the  idea   that  athletes  are  unsympathetic  to  weak  victims,  men  with  beards  resist  authority,  and   cabinetmakers  are  so  meticulous  they  will  never  be  satisfied  with  the  evidence.  Lawyers  can  now   be  asked  to  explain  their  logic  behind  a  preemptory  challenge  if  the  judge  feels  that  the  lawyer   may  be  discriminating  based  on  gender  or  race.     1   PSYC  241  –  Law     The  method  of  trial  lawyers  deciding  who  should  or  should  not  be  on  the  jury  based  on  instinct  is   largely  outdated,  as  it  relies  on  stereotypes  and  is  not  necessarily  accurate.  The  current  method  is   scientific  jury  selection,  see  next.       Scientific  jury  selection:  a  method  of  selecting  juries  through  surveys  that  yield  correlations   between  demographics  and  trial-­‐relevant  attitudes.  Often  jury  consultants,  either  social   psychologists  or  sociologists,  will  be  brought  in  to  help  determine  the  ideal  demographic  variables   for  the  defense  or  prosecution.       It  is  unclear  as  to  how  effective  scientific  jury  selection  actually  is.  It  seems  to  me,  and  it  also   addressed  in  the  book,  that  scientific  jury  selection  is  just  tipping  the  scales  to  a  favourable   outcome  for  your  client.  Therefore  people  or  institutions  that  can  afford  the  service  have  an  unfair   advantage  that  dupes  the  sake  of  justice.       A  study  was  conducted.  Black  and  white  jury  members  were  presented  with  a  case  that  held  either   strong  or  weak  evidence.  The  defendant  was  either  their  same  race  or  the  other  race.  The   researchers  predicted  that  jury  members  would  act  more  favourably  toward  members  of  their   own  race  because  of  the  similarity  they  share  with  the  person.  Here  is  what  they  found:   • When  the  evidence  was  weak,  jury  members  were  more  lenient  to  individuals  of  their  own   race   • When  the  evidence  was  strong  they  were  harsher  toward  the  similar  defendant   • It  is  important  to  note  that  this  was  just  a  study  and  not  a  finding  necessarily  observed  in  a   trial.  “Jury  members”  are  really  just  participants  in  the  role  of  a  jury  member  and  the   “defendant”  is  a  fictional  individual  made  up  for  the  purpose  of  the  study.       When  there  were  racial  discrepancies  between  participants  in  the  role  of  jury  member  and  the   fictional  defendant,  participants  were  stricter  against  the  defendant  of  the  opposite  race  when  it   was  not  overtly  apparent  that  race  was  a  factor  in  the  crime.  However  when  race  took  saliency  in   the  proceedings  jury  members  were  more  lenient  to  members  of  the  other  race.       Oftentimes  the  jury  is  responsible  for  both  the  verdict  and  the  sentencing.  In  some  states  the  jury   can  issue  the  death  penalty.  This  can  be  influenced  by  individual  differences,  such  as  the  following:   • Belief  of  retribution  and  revenge  (feeling  that  the  criminal  deserves  the  sentence   because  of  the  severity  of  the  crime;  personal  feeling  of  satisfaction  that  the  person  is  gone   from  the  world).   • Deterrence  (the  death  penalty  may  act  as  a  deterrent  for  committing  murder  in  the  states   where  it  is  common  practice).   • Cost  (executing  a  murderer  is  cheaper  than  incarcerating  them  for  life).     Death  qualification:  a  jury-­‐selection  process  in  which  the  judge  can  exclude  jurors  that  are   adamantly  opposed  to  the  death  penalty.  Although  these  individuals  could  have  been  open-­‐ minded  in  determining  a  verdict  they  are  admittedly  close-­‐minded  when  it  comes  to  sentencing.   There  is  a  fundamental  problem  to  this  method.  Individuals  who  are  open  to  the  death  penalty  are   more  likely  to  convict,  are  more  trustful  of  police,  and  are  less  trustful  of  the  defendant  and  their   2   PSYC  241  –  Law     lawyers.  In  addition,  merely  asking  if  they  support  the  death  penalty  in  the  voir  dire  can  lead  the   potential  jury  member  to  assume  guilt  and  that  death  is  the  suitable  punishment.     The  Courtroom  Drama     The  events  that  take  place  in  the  courtroom  are  well  orchestrated,  but  unfortunately  not  without   shortcomings,  as  they  are  prone  to  error.     • False  confessions   • Polygraph  tests   • Eyewitness  testimony   • Nonevidentiary  influences   • Judge’s  instructions     The  first  step  is  getting  a  confession.  The  most  common  tactic  is  to  instill  a  feeling  of  social   isolation  by  holding  the  interrogation  in  a  soundproof  room  with  no  windows.  It  is  also  important   that  the  accused  is  alone.  Most  police  officers  use  several  tactics  to  get  a  confession.  Some  claim  to   have  irrefutable  evidence  against  the  accused  with  the  hope  that  they  see  denial  as  useless.   Another  common  tactic  is  to  offer  the  accused  themes  that  make  their  crime  seem  justified,   blaming  the  victim,  and  offering  sympathy.  The  hope  is  that  this  false  sense  of  security  will  lull  the   accused  into  a  confession.  I  think  the  most  important  thing  to  is  not  the  exact  tactics  but  more  that   police  use  social  psychological  aspects  to  get  the  accused  to  confess.       Police  tactics  can  sometimes  draw  false  confessions  from  innocent  parties.  Factors  that  promote   false  confessions:  compliance,  internalization.     Sometimes  the  innocent  suspect  will  confess  as  an  act  of  compliance  to  get  out  of  the  bad   situation  –  after  all  when  you  hear  for  hours  that  you  are  the  perpetrator  and  that  you  need  to   confess  you  just  might  accept  the  authority’s  command  and  confess.  Scarier  still  is  that  some   police  tactics  cause  the  innocent  suspect  to  think  that  they  actually  committed  the  crime;  the   mechanism  by  which  this  happens  is  called  internalization.       What  causes  internalization?  That  is  to  say,  under  what  circumstances  is  it  possible  that  someone   might  think  they  committed  a  crime  that  they  did  not  actually  commit?   • Lacking  a  clear  memory  of  the  event  in  question   • Presentation  of  false  evidence  from  police  (“we  have  you  fingerprints  at  the  scene”)     Recall  the  fundamental  attribution  error.  We  overestimate  the  role  of  the  individual  and   underestimate  the  role  of  the  situation.  Juries  that  are  told  to  disregard  coerced  confessions  are   still  more  likely  to  recall  the  confession  and  see  it  as  an  indication  of  guilt.  A  study  was  conducted   on  this  matter.  Mock  juries  were  presented  a  case  with  the  same  evidence  save  for  the  confession:     • In  the  control  condition  there  was  no  mention  of  a  confession.  19%  of  the  jury  voted  guilty.     • In  the  low-­‐pressure  condition  there  was  a  confession.  62%  of  the  jury  voted  guilty.   • In  the  high-­‐pressure  condition  there  was  a  confession,  but  the  jurors  were  told  that  the   confession  was  given  out  of  fear  while  the  accused  was  in  pain  from  his  handcuffs.  The   jurors  claimed  that  the  coerced  confession  did  not  influence  their  decision,  but  50%  o  them   voted  guilty.  This  is  a  huge  increase  over  the  19%  that  voted  guilty  when  there  was  no   3   PSYC  241  –  Law     confession  at  all,  even  though  the  jurors  in  the  high-­‐pressure  condition  understood  clearly   that  the  confession  was  not  legitimate.     In  one  study,  inmates  agreed  to  give  videotaped  confession  that  was  either  true  (based  on  the   crime  they  were  serving  time  for)  or  fabricated  (based  on  a  situation  provided  by  the  researcher).   The  videotaped  confessions  were  shown  to  both  college  students  and  police  officers.  The  groups   were  asked  to  determine  whether  the  confession  was  legitimate  or  false.  Police  officers  were   highly  confident  in  their  voting,  but  neither  them  nor  the  college  students  were  very  accurate  in   picking  out  true  or  false  confessions.       When  videotaped  confessions  only  show  the  accused  people,  even  experienced  trial  judges,  are   more  likely  to  believe  that  coercion  was  not  used.  This  effect  is  not  seen  as  much  when  the   videotape  focuses  on  the  interrogator  or  both  the  accused  and  the  interrogator.       Polygraph:  machine  that  measures  physiological  arousal  and  can  be  used  as  a  lie-­‐detector.       The  polygraph  is  a  method  that  can  be  used  to  determine  guilt,  but  it  is  not  foolproof.       Eyewitness  testimony.     This  is  a  big  section.  It  is  still  part  of  the  elements  of  courtroom  drama  that  are  prone  to  error,  but   I  wanted  to  call  attention  to  it  as  its  own  section  since  there  is  so  much  content.  Also  keep  in  mind   that  this  one  subsection  is  the  professor’s  area  of  expertise.  Chances  are  this  will  be  a  big  deal  on   the  exam.       Eyewitness  error  is  the  most  common  cause  of  wrongful  convictions.       There  are  three  ideas  that  have  been  proven  in  research  on  eyewitness  testimony.     1. Eyewitnesses  are  imperfect.   2. Personal  and  situational  factors  can  influence  the  eyewitness’  performance.     3. Judges,  juries,  and  lawyers  are  not  adequately  informed  on  these  factors.       Think  about  the  implications  of  the  above  ideas.  It  is  an  established  fact  that  eyewitness  testimony   is  imperfect  and  that  there  are  many  variables  that  can  sway  the  identification,  and  yet  crucial   parties  who  are  ignorant  of  the  imperfect  accuracy  may  regard  this  evidence  as  fact.       Memory  occurs  in  three  stages:   1. Acquisition  –  witness’  perceptions  at  the  time  of  the  event.   2. Storage  –  rehearsal  of  the  information  to  avoid  forgetting.   3. Retrieval  –  recalling  the  information  when  it  is  needed.     Errors  can  occur  at  each  of  these  three  stages  in  memory.  I  will  go  over  each  stage  individually.       Acquisition.  High  stress  can  cause  an  individual  to  have  less  accurate  memory  of  specific  aspects  of   an  event.  In  these  conditions  individuals  tend  to  focus  attention  on  one  place,  such  as  the  weapon   or  the  perpetrator,  but  miss  more  central  details.       4   PSYC  241  –  Law     Weapon-­‐focus:  presence  of  a  weapon  causes  focus  to  be  on  the  weapon  itself,  leading  to   decreased  acquisition  of  information  and  therefore  less  memory  of  the  actual  perpetrator.       Cross-­‐race  identification  bias:  people  have  difficulty  identifying  members  of  a  race  other  than   their  own.       Storage.  Time  can  cause  the  details  of  a  memory  to  slip  away,  but  more  important  is  the  effects  of   postevent  information.  Over  an  interval  the  individual  may  talk  about  the  event  in  question,  here   other  testimonies,  or  hear  about  the  event  in  the  media.  All  of  this  information  can  blur  the  line   between  what  the  individual  remembers  first-­‐hand  and  what  they  remember  about  the  event  in   general.       Misinformation  effect:  the  tendency  for  false  postevent  information  to  be  integrated  into  a   person’s  memory  of  the  event.  Recall  Loftus’  experiment  with  the  car  crash.       Children  are  particularly  susceptible  to  the  misinformation  effect,  especially  when  it  comes  to   questioning.  The  following  are  procedures  in  questioning  that  could  bring  about  false  memories:   • Repetition  of  a  question  –  if  the  child  is  asked  the  same  question  again  and  again  they   come  to  believe  that  their  answer  has  not  been  satisfactory.   • Misinformation  –  being  told  that  the  suspect  is  a  bad  person   • Leading  questions  –  asking  questions  such  as  “was  Sam  wearing  short  or  long  pants  when   he  tore  the  book?”  assumes  guilt  and  can  cause  false  memories.     Retrieval.       When  making  a  composite  sketch,  you  choose  the  features  individually.  Studies  have  shown  that   the  sketch  rarely  resembles  the  culprit  and  only  serves  to  confuse  the  eyewitness.  Participants  in  a   study  saw  a  mock  culprit  and  were  asked  two  days  later  to  identify  him:   • In  one  condition  participants  were  given  a  lineup.  Accuracy  among  the  sample  was  60%.   • In  the  other  condition  participants  assembled  a  composite.  Accuracy  was  18%.       Factors  that  affect  the  accuracy  of  an  eyewitness  identification  (in  a  lineup):   • Construction  of  the  lineup  should  contain  foils  that  match  the  description  of  the  culprit   • Instructions  –  it  is  important  to  stress  that  the  culprit  may  not  actually  be  in  the  lineup   • Format  –  sequential  presentation  is  better  than  simultaneous   • Familiarity-­‐induced  biases  –  people  tend  to  remember  a  face  but  not  necessarily  the   circumstances  around  which  they  encoded  the  face.       -­‐-­‐     When  it  comes  to  the  courtroom  testimony,  jurors  over  estimate  the  accuracy  of  the  eyewitness   and  cannot  distinguish  between  correct  and  incorrect  identifications.  In  general  people  involved  in   the  court  process  are  ignorant  to  the  shortcomings  of  memory,  weapons  focus,  cross-­‐race  bias,  etc.   This  finding  is  not  limited  to  jurors:  judges  and  attorneys  have  less  knowledge  relative  to  experts   as  well.     5   PSYC  241  –  Law       Jurors  often  use  confidence  of  the  eyewitness  as  a  factor  to  predict  the  accuracy  of  the  testimony,   but  it  has  been  found  that  the  eyewitness’  confidence  is  not  predictive  of  accuracy.     Social  feedback  can  alter  the  eyewitness’  confidence  of  an  event:   • Confidence  was  raised  when  the  participant  was  lead  to  believe  that  a  co-­‐witness  identified   either  a  dissimilar-­‐looking  alternative  or  the  same  person.  Confidence  was  lowered  when   the  co-­‐witness  chose  a  similar-­‐looking  alternative  or  no  person  at  all.   • Confidence  is  heightened  with  repetitive  questioning  if  the  eyewitness  is  sure  in  their   selection.   • Confidence  is  heightened  when  the  officer  says  something  reaffirming,  such  as,  “the  person   you  chose  is  the  actual  suspect.”  This  leads  the  eyewitness  to  later  claim  to  be  more   confident  that  they  had  a  clear  view,  were  paying  attention  to  the  face,  and  are  confident  in   their  selection  relative  to  other  people  who  did  not  receive  this  feedback.       Social  psychologists  are  often  called  to  the  stand  to  inform  juries  on  the  shortcomings  of   eyewitness  testimony.  Here  are  the  most  common  things  they  say:   • Wording  of  questions:  testimony  of  an  event  can  be  influenced  by  how  the  question  was   worded.   • Lineup  instructions:  instructions  can  influence  the  witness’  willingness  to  make  a   selection  and  confidence  in  a  positive  identification.   • Mug  shot-­‐induced  bias:  if  the  eyewitness  sees  a  mug  shot  before  a  lineup  they  are  likely  to   choose  that  suspect  (this  is  a  familiarity-­‐induced  bias).   • Confidence  malleability:  there  are  a  variety  of  variables  that  can  influence  the  eyewitness’   confidence  in  their  selection  regardless  of  their  actual  accuracy.   • Postevent  information:  testimony  can  be  influenced  by  information  gathered  after  the   event.   • Child  suggestibility:  young  children  are  more  vulnerable  to  interviewer  suggestion  and   social  pressure.   • Alcoholic  intoxication:  being  intoxicated  at  the  time  of  the  event  impairs  the  ability  to   recall  accurately.   • Cross-­‐race  bias:  eyewitnesses  are  more  accurate  at  identifying  culprits  of  their  same  race.   • Weapon  focus:  the  presence  of  a  weapon  draws  focus  to  the  weapon  and  away  from  other   details  of  the  event,  such  as  the  face  of  the  perpetrator.     • Accuracy  confidence:  confidence  is  not  a  good  predictor  of  accuracy.     [...]  We  now  go  to  Nonevidentiary  influences.       The  goal  of  a  trial  is  that  the  jury  makes  a  decision  based  purely  on  the  evidence  and  testimonies   presented  in  court.  Does  this  actually  happen?  After  all  media,  rumors,  the  defendant’s   appearance,  and  other  information  can  influence  opinion.  It  is  hard  to  escape  media  influences   when  it  comes  to  high  profile  cases,  and  since  the  information  is  coming  from  the  police  or  district   attorney  (who  obviously  presume  guilt  since  they  are  the  ones  behind  charging  the  suspect)  most   of  the  information  is  incriminating  to  the  defendant.       6   PSYC  241  –  Law     A  study  was  conducted  in  which  mock  juries  were  shown  a  clip  of  a  robbery.  Before  deliberating   some  of  the  juries  were  shown  neutral  newspaper  clippings  and  others  were  shown  incriminating   ones.  In  the  voir  dire  neither  the  judges  nor  attorneys  could  determine  that  any  of  the  jurors  held   biases  ab
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