Neutralizing Negative Pretrial Publicity: A Multi-Part Strategy
The Jury Expert, Vol. 25, No. 5, November 2013
4 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2013
Date Written: November 6, 2013
Cable news, the internet, twenty-four hour news cycles, social media websites including Facebook and Twitter, newspapers, expert and not-so-expert television commentators, interviews of and media releases by participants and observers -- some of whom may have agendas which extend beyond the case at hand -- have significantly increased the amount of information, speculation, and theories made available to the public, and thus potential jurors, about pending cases. This is all the more true with high profile cases. Consultants and lawyers have long intuitively known what psychological research shows -- pretrial publicity can have significant impact on jury verdicts.
The law makes an incorrect assumption that potential jurors can compartmentalize the influence of outside information and set it aside. On this assumption, the law has, through statute and/or judicial opinions, constructed a standard for acceptance/dismissal for cause of a juror based on a juror’s self-assessment of whether he/she can set aside facts, views, and opinions and decide the case solely on the basis of the evidenced admitted at trial. This article explores the issue of pretrial publicity (PTP) and juror bias, briefly discusses the psychological literature on the realities of bias and decision-making, and offers a multi-part suggestion for addressing PTP prior to trial, during voir dire and during the trial.
Keywords: jury, bias, decisionmaking
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation