Turning Mirrors into Windows?: Assessing the Impact of (Mock) Juror Education in Rape Trials
Posted: 27 Apr 2009
Date Written: May 2009
In 2006, the Government proposed allowing prosecutors in England and Wales to adduce ‘general’ expert witness testimony in rape cases. This initiative was based on two assumptions-first, that jurors currently lack an adequate understanding of rape complainants’ post-assault behaviour (which, in turn, generates inappropriate inferences regarding credibility) and, second, that expert testimony offers a useful vehicle for addressing such juror ignorance. In a previous article, the authors reported on a mock jury study that provided empirical support for the first of these claims-at least in regard to a complainant's calm demeanour, delayed reporting or lack of physical resistance. In this article, the authors investigate whether educational guidance presented at trial-via expert testimony or an expansive judicial instruction-can have the intended beneficial impact of redressing popular misconceptions, thereby leading to a fairer assessment of complainant credibility in rape cases.
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