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Asking the right questions: examining the utility of fact based jury directions using a simulated trial paradigm

thesis
posted on 27.02.2017 by Spivak, Benjamin Luke
No studies to date have considered the effectiveness of fact-based directions relative to other enhanced forms of directions in terms of comprehension and application of legal principles. Furthermore, little is known about the effects of fact-based directions in realistic simulated jury settings. The research project sought to compare four forms of instructions: (1) standard; (2) plain language; (3) checklist; (4) fact-based in terms of comprehension and application of legal concepts. The research project utilised a sample of 1007 adults who had been called for jury service in the Victorian County and Supreme Courts over a twelve month period. Participants were tested in groups of 10-12 and engaged in a realistic one day simulated trial including deliberation. Testing of participants occurred at three time points- pre-trial, pre-deliberation, and where time allowed, at post-deliberation. Results indicated that comprehension of directions was significantly higher in all modified (plain language, checklist, fact-based) instructional types compared to standard instructions at the pre-deliberation stage of trial. Findings around application of law were mixed. At the pre-deliberation stage, participants receiving fact-based instructions had significantly higher scores on true/false application questions compared with participants in other conditions at the pre-deliberation stage, whereas there were no significant differences between conditions for multiple choice application. However, opportunistic testing of a limited number of participants following deliberation revealed that participants in the fact-based condition had significantly higher scores on multiple-choice application items. The results support previous findings on plain language instructions and comprehension and support the use of revisions such as checklists, question-trails and restructuring of the charge more generally. Participants provided with fact-based directions scored better on tests of comprehension than participants receiving standard instructions. Participants provided with fact-based directions also scored significantly higher on tests of true/false application than participants in all other conditions. Finally, instruction type was found to interact with deliberation, with participants receiving fact-based directions scoring far higher than participants in all other conditions at the post-deliberation

History

Principal supervisor

James Ogloff

Additional supervisor 1

Jonathan Clough

Year of Award

2016

Department, School or Centre

Psychological sciences

Campus location

Australia

Course

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type

DOCTORATE

Faculty

Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences

Exports

Categories

Exports