Effects of Prejudicial Pretrial Publicity From Physical and Witness Evidence on Mock Jurors' Decision Making1


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    The authors express their thanks to Amy Leyva, Brenda Urbshot, Tami Zada, and Jenny Henry for their skillful contributions in preparing written transcripts and coding data.


The effects of prejudicial pretrial publicity (PTP) from physical and witness evidence on decisions made by trained and untrained mock jurors were compared. Mock jurors viewed a videotaped rape trial and participated in jury deliberations. Training consisted of completion of a university course on psychology and law. As expected, physical evidence PTP produced more guilty votes than witness or no PTP. Both types of PTP influenced untrained mock jurors' punishment preferences and perceptions of satisfaction and fairness, whereas trained mock jurors' opinions on these measures were unaffected by PTP. Deliberations of trained mock juries were more task-oriented and focused on relevant evidence and legal issues than that of their untrained peers. Limitations of this mock jury study were discussed.