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Juror Comprehension and the Hard Case - Making Forensic Evidence Simpler


Mark Findlay


University of Sydney - Faculty of Law; University of Sydney - Institute of Criminology; Singapore Management University - School of Law

August 2006

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 06/59

Abstract:     
The complexity/comprehension nexus as it impacts on juror decision-making is addressed in the particular context of prosecution-led DNA evidence. Such evidence is for jurors the subject of pre-trial preconceptions, and is notoriously difficult to present and argue before a jury. The article looks at the comprehension of forensic evidence by jurors, a task qualified by the opinion of legal professionals whose responsibility it is to present and interpret such evidence in adversarial contexts.

Jurors were surveyed post-verdict in trials where forensic evidence featured in circumstantial cases. These insights into comprehension were qualified by contesting views of legal professionals, and critical reflections from independent observation teams regarding the manner in which this evidence was used and its intended impact on the jury. What results is both declared and implicit indicators of comprehension, not so much against broad measures of complexity (Findlay, 2001), but rather the particular place of popularly endowed forensic evidence within the circumstantial case.

The article explores the utility of a multi-methodological study of comprehension from the perspectives of the proponents, commentators, recipients and observers of the adversarial contest. To this is employed a interactive analysis of important decision-sites and relationships of influence in the trial as they may impact on comprehension and be measured as 'complex'.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: Juries, Juror comprehension, Complexity, Forensic evidence

JEL Classification: K14, K41, K10

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Date posted: February 19, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Findlay, Mark, Juror Comprehension and the Hard Case - Making Forensic Evidence Simpler (August 2006). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 06/59. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=928788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.928788

Contact Information

Mark James Findlay (Contact Author)
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )
Faculty of Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
University of Sydney - Institute of Criminology ( email )
Faculty of Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
Singapore Management University - School of Law ( email )
60, Stamford Road
Level 4
Singapore, 178900
Singapore

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