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Jury Selection in Child Sex Abuse Trials: A Case Analysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2009 Pages: 190-205
Robert J. Cramer; Desiree D. Adams; Stanley L. Brodsky
Date Published
April 2009
16 pages
This study examined psychological constructs for jury selection in child sex abuse cases from the defense perspective.
This study specifically delineates general and case-specific jury selection variables. General variables include authoritarianism, dogmatism, need for cognition, pretrial knowledge, and race/socioeconomic status. Case specific variables include sexual attitudes, homonegativity, juror abuse history, and beliefs about children. Also provided is a factual background of a representative case, which incorporates relevant case law, identifies sources for voir dire and questionnaire items, and discusses lessons from first experiences of a trial consultant for the defense. The study noted that jury selection in a child sex abuse case could be a valuable learning opportunity for a trial consultant. Consultants can draw both on the dense psychological literature and personal experience in aiding attorneys in the voir dire. However, as a profession, consultants must remember that jury selection is an imperfect art because of extrapolations from the psychological literature. It is important not to over interpret the available data. For instance, despite group correlations between high authoritarianism and a preference for deference to authority, not every potential jury pool member endorsing an authoritarian view will believe law enforcement over a defendant. Training for a novice consultant provides a solid foundation of psychological and legal knowledge, educational resources, and critical thinking. However frustrating the process and jury selection process may be, keeping an appropriate emotional distance and approaching the job with integrity is paramount. References