Does pre-trial publicity have a lasting effect on juror bias, predisposition, and verdict votes? The answer, according to this study, is “yes,” at least sometimes. More importantly, judicial inquiries of “can you put that outside of your mind” and judicial admonishments to “decide this case on the facts, and not on anything you read or heard outside of the courtroom” have limited efficacy.
This article reports on recent simulated criminal case juror deliberations and verdicts, where test conditions were controlled to have individuals with no pre-trial publicity exposure. anti-defendant pre-trial publicity exposure, and anti-prosecution pre-trial publicity exposure.
The study findings are complex, and may require a social scientist or psychologist to untangle and translate. But one conclusion stands out – “These finding suggest that the courts, in high-profile cases, should not rely on jury deliberations to correct the bias associated with PTP exposure–doing so may result in an increase or spread of PTP bias.”
When the case is high-profile, it may be time for expert testimony in challenges to the jury selection process and determining where the jury should be selected from. The research may also be relevant to requests for expanded voir dire and a more expansive notion of what constitutes “cause” for dismissing potential jurors.