Psychology and Law
Selecting 12 representative and impartial peers
How jurist are selected?
One first issue is: how common are jury trials?
Jurist trials are relatively rare in Canada. There is to types of trials:
Civil trails: dispute between citizens or between groups (ex: your sue someone you ll be
involved in a civil trail) There is no absolute right to a jury trial (depends on provincial
legislation). Civil trail are allowed in Ontario (not Quebec)
Criminal trial: (offences against the crown not between citizens or groups) If you commit a
crime in Canada is against our lady the queen and dignity. It’s constitutional (charter) right to
jury trial but is important to notice is for only more serious offences (penalty of 5 years or
more in prison). All criminal trails involved jury in the most cases, and so a huge consequence
for the accused.
The role of juries?
They are 3 basic roles:
Apply the law (as defined by judges)
To the admissible evidence
Render a unanimous verdict of guilty or not guilty
Also: 2 others roles:
Juries represent the community where the crime occurred (a eu lieu??) (adds legitimacy and
public acceptance to verdicts
Serve as conscience of community (can guard against laws perceived to be unfair simply be
refusing to define a guilty. Case of Dr Morgentaler and abortion laws. Par exemple refuser
d’accuser quelqu’un et de le mettre en hp, c’est la conscience de la population, il ne pense
pas que c’est raisonnable.
What are the characteristics of a good jury?
Ex: do me friend has the characteristics of a jury?
Two fundamentally important characteristics:
Must be representative of the community where the crime occur (a eu lieu) .20 ago a jury in
Canada were composed by only white males. - Typical selection procedure: obtain list of people in community (voter registration, census,
local phone book) = JURY POOL (all potential jury)
- Randomly select people from the pool ( environ 100) = JURY PANEL
- Each person on the panel is sent a jury summon (summon = convocation) (court order to
appear for jury duty) If you ignore a jury summon you can go to jail. On this day all the panel
is together on the special room, really formal. They are given the number and placed in jury
- Numbers are randomly selected (12 in criminal trials, 6 in civil trials). These people ‘usually”
become jurors unless : things that can keep people off a jury:
(a) not eligible for jury duty (varies by province, in Ontario must be a Canadian citizen, live in
Ontario and +18 and must not be a member of house of commons, senate, a judge,
lawyer, law student, police officer, medical doctor, vet, coroner, if you have physical or
mental disability, and if you have convicted on a serious criminal affair)
(b) being challenged by one of the lawyers (see bellows) : if successful, person is sent back to
jury room (might be selected for another trial)
Things to note about selection procedure:
- No guarantee that jury will be representative (biased pool, ex no homeless people) and (a)
and (b) above limit representativeness of the community.
- Lawyers can appeal verdict get a new trail if it can be proved that jury was not representative
in “important” way.
Juries must be “impartial”:
1. Involves three issues:
(a) Can set aside all pre-existing biases (prejudices; attitudes about type of crime).
(b) Jury must ignore all inadmissible evidence (thing reported in the media)
(c) No connection to the accused; no personal interest in particular outcome of trial.
The Canadian government takes 7 step to ensure impartiality:
- Jurors swear oath (serment) to be impartial
- 12 jurors might be cancels-out biases of any single juror see page 27-28
- Jurors can’t discuss deliberations after trial is over (it’s a criminal offence) not like in US!
Keeping the deliberations private is better for the trial.
- Canadian courts impose publication bans after a preliminary inquiry (limits what media can
report) prevents bias in jury pools? Ex: quelqu’un est accusé et se confesse, mais le juge ne
l’admet pas, et on ne veut pas l’avoir dans les médias pour pas influencer les jurys « tu vois il
l’a fait ! ».
Are publication Bans effective in preventing bias?
A. Do bans prevent biased info from being published?
- Info is published before ban is imposed (bodies on Pickton’s pig farm)
- Info is published after ban is imposed (American web sites and TV, ex Bernado a tué 2
adolescentes et toutes les infos étaient sur un site internet).
B1. Can jurors ignore biased pretrial publicity? Need to conduct research: which method for studying on juries?
1. Interview actual jurors (can’t do this in Canada; can do it in US)
2. Use simulated (mock = faux) juries.
- Recruit university students (or people from jury pool)
- Randomly assigned to one of two groups:
Group 1 receives biased pretrial publicity
Group 2 receives no biased pretrial publicity
- Both groups exposed to same trial evidence.
- Measure “verdicts” (guilty or not guilty. It’s a experience study so there isn’t a deliberation
and sometimes they measure that on a scale (0 to 9 for example).
B2. Can jurors ignore biased pretrial publicity?
1. Review of 44 studies (1999): moderate positive relation between exposure to biased
publicity and guilty verdicts (more exposure; more guilt)
2. Also depends on content and timing of publicity.
o Kramer’s simulation study: participants watched video of robbery trial.
Prior to trial, researchers manipulated:
- Exposure to negative pretrial publicity (yes or not)
- Content of publicity (manipulated by the researcher)