Jurors’ Judgments and the Media: Is All Pretrial Publicity Equal?

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer L. Jarrett (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Twila Wingrove

Abstract: Previous research on the effect of pretrial publicity (PTP) on jurors’ judgments in criminal court has typically focused on prejudicial information presented about the defendant in a criminal case. This spotlight on the defendant is shifting to a broader perspective due to the expanding coverage of the media. The current study utilized three news articles containing one type of PTP: positive defendant (PD), negative defendant (ND), positive victim (PV), negative victim (NV), case-specific (CS), or a form of PTP unrelated to the crime. Case-specific publicity depicted the crime and the crime scene, but without any biasing information about the victim or defendant. The study also explored the effect of strong or moderate strength of evidence (SOE) on trial judgments and the biases produced by exposure to PTP. As predicted, SOE impacted ratings of victim blame, and marginally influenced final verdict and continuous guilt ratings. Participants in the ND-PTP condition gave more not guilty verdicts; however, if the defendant was found guilty, the participants in the ND condition recommended harsher sentences. Participants in NV-PTP and CS-PTP gave significantly more severe sentences compared to those in the unrelated control condition. There were no interactions between SOE and PTP on any trial judgments.

Additional Information

Jarrett, J.L. (2013). Jurors’ Judgments and the Media: Is All Pretrial Publicity Equal? Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Defendant, Victim, Pretrial Publicity, Juror Decision-Making, Legal Judgments

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