, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 219-235

The Effects of Pretrial Publicity on Juror Verdicts: A Meta-Analytic Review

Abstract

The effect of pretrial publicity (PTP) on juror verdicts was examined through a meta-analysis of 44 empirical tests representing 5,755 subjects. In support of the hypothesis, subjects exposed to negative PTP were significantly more likely to judge the defendant guilty compared to subjects exposed to less or no negative PTP. Greater effect sizes were produced in studies which included a pretrial verdict assessment, use of the potential juror pool as subjects, multiple points of negative information included in the PTP, real PTP, crimes of murder, sexual abuse, or drugs, and greater length of time between PTP exposure and judgment. The effect was attenuated with student subjects, use of general rather than specific PTP information, certain types of PTP content, a post-trial predeliberation verdict, and specific types of crimes. Implications of these results are discussed, along with possible mechanisms that underlie the PTP effect.