Title

The Modification of Jury Instructions to Improve Juror Verdicts and Confession Recognitions in a Criminal Trial

School Name

Spring Valley High School

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Behavioral Science

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Abstract

False confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the American legal system (Jones et al., 2021). Jury instructions have been identified as an effective judicial safeguard in an effort to prevent wrongful convictions and allow jurors to better comprehend confession evidence in the courtroom. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the modification of standard jury instructions would have an effect on juror verdicts, confession identifications, and overall juror decision-making. It was hypothesized that participants given modified jury instructions would have the highest correct verdict determinations and confession recognitions with both the coerced and voluntary trial transcripts. Participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk, and they were randomly assigned into experimental groups. Participants read a trial transcript and completed a questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were determined, and logistic regression tests were conducted to determine statistical significance. The type of trial transcript had a significant main effect on both verdict determinations, Wald χ2 (1, N=180) =17.544, p <0.001 and confession identifications, Wald χ2 (1, N=180) =24.765, p <0.001. The results demonstrated that participants who were given modified jury instructions had the highest percentages of correct verdict determinations and correct confession identifications compared to participants who were given standard instructions or no instructions. It was also determined that participants given modified instructions were more aware of factors such as interrogation coercion. Further research should be conducted to maximize the potential of jury instructions and other safeguards in criminal trials.

Location

B&E 235

Start Date

4-2-2022 11:15 AM

Presentation Format

Oral and Written

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Apr 2nd, 11:15 AM

The Modification of Jury Instructions to Improve Juror Verdicts and Confession Recognitions in a Criminal Trial

B&E 235

False confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the American legal system (Jones et al., 2021). Jury instructions have been identified as an effective judicial safeguard in an effort to prevent wrongful convictions and allow jurors to better comprehend confession evidence in the courtroom. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the modification of standard jury instructions would have an effect on juror verdicts, confession identifications, and overall juror decision-making. It was hypothesized that participants given modified jury instructions would have the highest correct verdict determinations and confession recognitions with both the coerced and voluntary trial transcripts. Participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk, and they were randomly assigned into experimental groups. Participants read a trial transcript and completed a questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were determined, and logistic regression tests were conducted to determine statistical significance. The type of trial transcript had a significant main effect on both verdict determinations, Wald χ2 (1, N=180) =17.544, p <0.001 and confession identifications, Wald χ2 (1, N=180) =24.765, p <0.001. The results demonstrated that participants who were given modified jury instructions had the highest percentages of correct verdict determinations and correct confession identifications compared to participants who were given standard instructions or no instructions. It was also determined that participants given modified instructions were more aware of factors such as interrogation coercion. Further research should be conducted to maximize the potential of jury instructions and other safeguards in criminal trials.