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Legal Psych Final Exam Review

by: Fiaza Ahmed

Legal Psych Final Exam Review SOP 4842

Marketplace > Florida International University > Psychlogy > SOP 4842 > Legal Psych Final Exam Review
Fiaza Ahmed
GPA 3.7

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About this Document

Death penalty Jury Selection Jury Decision Making
Legal Psychology
Lindsay Malloy
Study Guide
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This 8 page Study Guide was uploaded by Fiaza Ahmed on Sunday May 1, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to SOP 4842 at Florida International University taught by Lindsay Malloy in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 73 views. For similar materials see Legal Psychology in Psychlogy at Florida International University.


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Date Created: 05/01/16
Jury Selection: Challenge for cause • Unlikely that the juror can render an impartial verdict based only on evidence and law • e.g., doctor in a medical malpractice case • e.g., juror admits she would hold it against the defendant if he refused to testify • No number limit (in theory) – judges must agree and their patience is limited Peremptory challenge  Lawyer can dismiss a juror without giving a reason and without approval from the judge  Each side gets a limited number – depends on case seriousness  Defense attorneys get more because defendant has more at stake  Remember the Blackstone quote? Venire, voir dire  Current political affiliation  Where were you born?  Have you ever had any personal interaction with a celebrity (such as writing a celebrity a letter, receiving a letter or photograph from a celebrity, or getting an autograph from a celebrity)?  Do you have any affiliation with professional sports?  Are you a fan of the USC Trojans football team?  Have you ever experienced domestic violence in your home, either growing up or as an adult? Please describe the circumstances and the impact it has had upon you.  When you were growing up, what was the racial and ethnic make-up of your neighborhood?  Does playing sports build an individual’s character? Cognizable groups  Recognized as sharing a characteristic or attitude that distinguishes them from other potential jurors Mock juries  Some “mock jury” studies reveal that lawyers are no better than students and no better than simple random selection of jurors  Zeisel & Diamond, 1978:  12 criminal trials  Persuaded the dismissed jurors to stay and hear the case  Overall performance was low but some attorneys were very skilled  Effective use of challenges influenced verdicts in 3 of the 12 cases  Use mock juries to:  Uncover relationships between juror characteristics and responses to the evidence – guides peremptory challenges  Design questions for voir dire  Get a clear sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the case Shadow juries  May be used in high stakes cases  10-12 people who match the demographics of the actual jury  “Sit in” during the trial  Can be questioned throughout the trial about their reactions to the evidence  Feedback can be used to change strategies/make adjustments Personality tendencies that influence verdicts  Juror characteristics and verdict prediction  Associations are modest or unreliable – 5 to 14% of the variance  e.g., gender Modestly associated personality tendencies Locus of control  How people tend to explain what happens to them  Internal locus of control  Outcomes in life due to own abilities or efforts  External locus of control  Outcomes in life due to outside forces Belief in a just world  People get what they deserve and deserve what they get”  People who strongly believe in a just world tend to be more “victim blaming”  e.g., “Why did she wear that/walk alone down that street/drink that much/act that way?” Authoritarianism  People with “authoritarian personalities tend to: have conventional values, rigid beliefs, intolerance of weakness, identify with and submit to authority figures, and are suspicious of and punitive toward people who violate rules/established norms  More likely to convict and are more punitive in sentencing… unless the defendant is a police officer Similarity leniency hypothesis and the boomerang effect  Jurors who are similar to the defendant will empathize and identify with the defendant and thus be less likely to convict  Research shows that sometimes similarity does increase leniency but the effect depends on:  How strong the evidence is against the defendant  How many “similar” people are members of the jury Kerr et al., 1995  Varied racial similarity and strength of evidence against defendant  When evidence is weak, we give similar defendants the benefit of the doubt  Boomerang effect: When evidence is strong, similar jurors were harsher on defendants than dissimilar jurors.  May help to distance themselves from the defendant Jury Decision Making Mathematical model and story model of jury decision making • Mental meter…can become “frozen” • Weight the evidence and adjust tendency to vote guilty/not guilty (mental meter) as evidence is received Evidence drive style vs. verdict driven style  Impact of Evidence • Strength of the relevant evidence is the best predictor of verdict • But it’s more than just evidence  Liberation hypothesis • When evidence is ambiguous, juries are “liberated” from the constraints of the evidence • Lack of clear evidence means that jurors may rely on “non- evidentiary factors Evidence Driven style Verdict Driven Style Jurors vote for the first time after 30% of juries vote at the there has been careful systematic beginning and then orient their discussion of the evidence discussions around the verdict options Sort evidence into supporting conviction or acquittal 3 phases/stages of jury deliberation 1. Orientation • Elect a foreperson, discuss procedures, raise general issues 2. Open conflict • Contentious…differences of opinion become apparent • Persuasion occurs 3. Reconciliation • Attempts to make everyone satisfied with the verdict and soothe hurt feelings Normative vs informational influence  Informational influence: Change opinion due to compelling arguments • Used more with fact-based decisions (e.g., whether defendant should be held liable)  Normative influence: Change opinion due to group pressure • Used more with subjective decisions (e.g., how much to award in damages) Four sources of biasing information  Pretrial publicity  Defendant characteristics  Inadmissible evidence  Complex evidence Strong jurors  Strong Jurors: Those who seem to have a disproportionate influence on deliberations • Majorities tend to prevail: 215 trials…209 verdicts favored initial majority • Leniency bias: evenly split juries tend to acquit Hung jury  Those that cannot reach a verdict  National rate: 6%  Things that influence hung juries: • Strength of the evidence, effectiveness of the arguments, clarity of the law, community sentiment Jury nullification  “Jury nullification occurs when guilt is established but the jury decides to acquit on its own sense of fairness, propriety, prejudice, or any other sentiment or concern.”  Juries may base their verdicts on reasoning that ignores, disregards, or goes beyond the law  Juries are expected to represent the moral conscience of the community  Double-edged sword Three types of jury reform (e.g., pre-instructions)  Radical Reformers • Overhaul/abandon system  Moderate Reformers • Make a good system better • e.g., allow note taking, jurors to ask questions • Potential methods for jury reform:  Simplify instructions to jury • Provide pre-instructions to jury • Allow jury discussion during trial Death Penalty Furman v Georgia, 1972  Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as it was being administered was unconstitutional  “Wantonly and freakishly applied”  “No meaningful basis for distinguishing the few cases in which it is imposed from the many cases in which it is not”  “Uncontrolled discretion of judges or juries”  Challenges to the death penalty have relied on the 8 and th 14 Amendments Gregg v Georgia, 1976 • Established bifurcated proceedings for capital cases – Tried by juries in 2 phases: Guilt and penalty • Weigh aggravating (supporting death sentence) vs. mitigating (supporting life imprisonment) factors • Jurors decide how much weight to place on various factors (only restriction: can’t give them NO weight or exclude from consideration) Bifurcated capital trial proceedings  During voir dire, it must be determined that the jury is “death qualified” (ie, willing to vote for the death penalty)  Potential jurors whose beliefs “substantially impair” their ability to consider or impose a death sentence must be excused/not permitted to serve  Excludes 30-40% of potential jurors  Capital juries are less representative of the larger community (fewer women, African Americans, liberals, Catholics Aggravating and mitigating factors  Death qualified jurors are more conviction prone and more receptive to aggravating factors/less receptive to mitigating factors  Death qualification process may lead jurors to infer that everyone expects a conviction/death sentence Racial disparities in the death penalty (general patterns)  Pre-Civil War- “The Black Codes”  1930-1967: 455 men executed for rape (89% African American)  1973 study: African American men convicted of raping white women were 18 times more likely to receive a death sentence than any other racial combination  Race impacts several stages in the legal process (still, today)  African American (AA) defendants are more likely than white defendants:  To be charged with capital murder  To be convicted of capital murder  To be sentenced to death once convicted  To actually be executed  White victim = twice as likely to seek death penalty than AA victim  AA people who kill white people are 4 times more likely to be charged with capital murder than AA people who kill AA people  After controlling for 20 relevant variables, prosecutors seek death penalty 5 times more often against those who kill white people than those who kill AA people  600 murders in Georgia: 22% of AAs who killed whites and 3% of whites who killed AAs got the death penalty  Controlling for 250 characteristics of the murder, offender, and victim: Odds of getting the death penalty were 4 times higher for killers of whites than killers of AA McCleskey v. Kemp (1987)  Court was unreceptive to the evidence on racial disparities in the death penalty  Court decided that some unfairness is inevitable and tolerable  Court’s opinion: “Apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.”  Have to show that jurors acted “with a discriminatory purpose”  In this case – not intentional  To overturn a death sentence due to racial bias, one needs strong evidence that jurors acted with a discriminatory purpose  Some have pointed out that this is a higher standard than what it is needed to show discrimination concerning housing and employment Atkins v Virginia, 2002 Cannot execute mentally retarded prisoners Roper v Simmons, 2005 Juveniles and the death penalty • Does the execution of an offender who committed the crime at the age of 16 or 17 constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment? • Court decided “yes” • Decision explicitly mentions psychological research included in the amicus brief • Both adolescents who are under age 16 and mentally retarded persons exhibit characteristics — “disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses,” that categorically disqualify them from the death penalty. (past cases) • Offenders at age 16 and 17 exhibit those characteristics as well. • Older Adolescents Behave Differently Than Adults Because Their Minds Operate Differently, Their Emotions Are More Volatile, and Their Brains Are Anatomically Immature • To the Extent That Adolescents Who Commit Capital Offenses Suffer From Serious Psychological Disturbances That Substantially Exacerbate the Already Existing Vulnerabilities of Youth, They Can Be Expected to Function at Sub-Standard Levels • Executing Adolescents Does Not Serve the Recognized Purposes of the Death Penalty • Sixteen- and 17-year-old offenders possess the same characteristics that warranted excluding offenders under 16 and mentally retarded persons from the reach of the death penalty, and on that basis they should also be excluded. Brutalization effect  Small increase in murders in the weeks following an execution (70 studies/60 years of data)  Stronger effect for highly publicized executions  May weaken inhibitions against violent behavior, desensitize people to killing, communicate that killing is a justifiable response to being provoked


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