Jury nullification: The influence of judicial instruction on the relationship between attitudes and juridic decision-making
BASIC AND APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 25(3), 243-254
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Prior research on jury nullification has suggested that individuals tend to operate on their “sentiments” of justice when engaging in juridic decision-making tasks. Explicitly informing jurors of this nullification power is believed to exacerbate the influence of personal bias in such decisions. In the present study, participants (N = 240) were presented a measure of euthanasia attitudes and subsequently viewed a case involving nonphysician-assisted death that differed in the method of euthanasia, degree of remorse shown by the defendant, and type of jury instruction presented. Results indicated that participants were more likely to view the defendant as innocent when they received a nullification jury instruction, when they held pro-euthanasia attitudes, and when the defendant used a mild form of euthanasia (“pulling the plug” on the respirator). Although participants’ attitudes influenced pre-deliberation decisions, regardless of the instructions they received, post-deliberation decisions showed a curious “moderation effect” in the nullification instruction condition in which attitudinal influence was diminished via deliberation discussions between participants. Participants given a standard jury instruction reported being influenced more by evidentiary and legal aspects of the trial, whereas those in the nullification instruction conditions were more likely to rely upon their perceptions of the defendant’s action, or more directly upon their attitudes toward euthanasia. Implications for the use of nullification instructions are discussed.
Christian A. Meissner, John C. Brigham, and Jeffrey E. Pfeifer. "Jury nullification: The influence of judicial instruction on the relationship between attitudes and juridic decision-making" Basic & Applied Social Psychology (2003).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christian_meissner/11
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