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From the Headlines to the Jury Room: An Examination of the Impact of Pretrial Publicity on Jurors and Juries

Chapter
Part of the Advances in Psychology and Law book series (APL, volume 3)

Abstract

Pretrial publicity (PTP) encompasses all media coverage of a case occurring prior to trial (Greene & Wade, 1988; Studebaker & Penrod, 1997). Importantly, substantial PTP that is prejudicial and anti-defendant in nature can bias jurors’ opinions of the defendant’s character and increase the likelihood of a guilty verdict (see Steblay, Besirevic, Fulero, & Jimenez-Lorente, 1999 for review). Over the past decade, there have been dramatic changes in how the media covers, and the public follows, criminal and civil cases (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, and Internet news sources), which has increased the public’s access to case information and removed geographical boundaries. This chapter begins by providing a summary of important court decisions involving PTP, as well as the American Bar Association’s ethical rules for the dissemination of pretrial information. The second section of this chapter explores the amount and type/slant of PTP found in various media sources and the changing media landscape. The chapter then turns to reviewing the social science research and mechanisms through which PTP influences jurors’ decisions. The chapter then examines the effectiveness of current remedies available to address PTP. The chapter concludes with future directions for PTP research and policy implications.

Keywords

Jury decision making Jury deliberations Pretrial publicity Juror bias Juror memory Judicial remedies Social media 

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South Florida Sarasota-ManateeSarasotaUSA

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