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Aim

To find out if use of protective shields and videotape testimony increases likelihood of guilty verdict

To investigate the effect that the use of protective devices has on jury reaction to testimony

Aim To find out if use of protective shields and videotape testimony increases likelihood of guilty

Method: Mock trial based on actual court transcript, Actors played the roles in the case

Participants: 300 psychology students. 150m 150f, white and middle class

Procedure

Three conditions 100 P's in each condition.

Watched 2-hour film of a court case of alleged abuse, each film was identical expect from the IV in the film

Control: with the child witness in full view. Screen condition: with the child witness behind a 4′ by 6′ screen. Video condition: where the child gave a evidence via a video link from another room

Film Father as the accused, mother and two expert witness for both sides and the child.

Judge read warning before the use of screen or video tape directing the jury not to imply guilt by their use

Participant asked for verdict and credibility of defendant and child witness

Results

Guilty percentage Open court 51%, Shield 46%, Video 49% Not guilty percentage Open court 49%, Shield 54%, Video 51%

No sig difference across condition

Guilty verdict slightly more common in open court and less in screened, but difference not sig

Conclusion

Results suggest that protective shields and videotaped testimonies can be used for child witnesses in a way that does not prejudice the jury against the defendant, but it is important that these measures are used carefully. Consideration has to be given to the position of the child’s testimony in the order of the trial and jurors must be warned not to assume that techniques like screens or videotapes imply that defendant is either guilty or innocent.