The Dock on Trial: Courtroom Design and the Presumption of Innocence

28 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017

See all articles by Meredith Rossner

Meredith Rossner

London School of Economics - Law Department

David Tait

University of Western Sydney - College of Arts

Blake McKimmie

University of Queensland

Rick T Sarre

University of South Australia - School of Law

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

This article examines the place of the criminal dock in courtroom design. Challenges to the use of the dock have been based upon the inability of the defendants to hear effectively, to communicate with counsel, to maintain their dignity, and to benefit from the presumption of innocence. Increasingly courts are incorporating secure docks, where defendants are partially or completely surrounded by glass (or in some countries, metal bars). To what extent do these changes and modifications undermine the right to the presumption of innocence? We present the results of an experimental mock jury study that was designed to test whether the placement of the accused influences jurors’ perceptions. We find that jurors are more likely to convict defendants when they are located in a traditional dock or a secure dock, compared to sitting next to their counsel at the bar table. We conclude by discussing the implications for trial procedures, counsel communications, and courtroom design.

Suggested Citation

Rossner, Meredith and Tait, David and McKimmie, Blake and Sarre, Rick T, The Dock on Trial: Courtroom Design and the Presumption of Innocence (September 2017). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 317-344, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013925 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jols.12033

Meredith Rossner (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

David Tait

University of Western Sydney - College of Arts ( email )

PO Box 10
Kingswood, NSW 2747
Australia

Blake McKimmie

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, 4072
Australia

Rick T Sarre

University of South Australia - School of Law ( email )

GPO Box 2471
Adelaide SA 5001
Australia
83020889 (Phone)
83027128 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/Homepage.asp?Name=Rick.Sarre

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