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Impacts of Evidence and Extralegal Factors in Jurors' Decisions

NCJ Number
Law and Society Review Volume: 20 Issue: 3 Dated: (1986) Pages: 423-438
B F Reskin; C A Visher
Date Published
16 pages
This study uses data from courtroom observations and posttrial interviews with jurors who served in 38 actual sexual assault trials.
It addresses three issues: (1) the effects of several measures of evidence on jurors' judgments of a defendant's guilt, (2) the relative merits of jurors' recollections of the evidence and measures of evidence coded at trial by trained observers, and (3) whether the effects of jurors' attitudes toward crime and their sentiments toward victims and defendants depend on the strength of the evidence, as Kalven and Zeisel (1966) contended. We find that both trial- and juror-level measures of evidence adequately capture the effects of evidence, and that neither measure is inherently preferable. Also, while jurors were influenced by extralegal factors, these effects were largely limited to weak cases in which the state presented little hard evidence, which is consistent with Kalven and Zeisel's 'liberation hypothesis.' (Publisher abstract)


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