Science in the Jury Box: Jurors' Views and Understanding of Mitochondrial DNA Evidence
48 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007 Last revised: 17 May 2014
Date Written: October 29, 2007
Policy makers, pundits, and scholars have all raised questions about how jurors understand and apply scientific evidence. In the current study, 480 jury pool members observed a mock trial that included expert testimony about mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evidence purportedly linking a defendant to a crime. As a group, the jurors showed moderately good command of the biological facts relating to mtDNA evidence, although some jurors made errors in defining mtDNA and in making inferences about its relevance to the trial. Comprehension was higher after jury deliberation and among jurors with more education. A minority of jurors expressed reservations about science, concern about the reliability of the mtDNA evidence, and suspicion that the mtDNA evidence was contaminated.
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