The American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies - Webinar
Juror (Mis)Perception of Opposing Counsel and Witnesses: What Attorneys and Experts Need to Know (MEMBERS ONLY)
Presented by Danielle Schulte Lewis, Ph.D.
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- Describe general patterns in juror bias
- Provide a history of scholarly examination of general juror bias as well as specific research of opposing counsel
- Illuminate themes in juror bias towards attorneys, witnesses, and case presentation on wrongful conviction
- Discuss implications for evidence-based jury system reform
- Inform criminal justice professionals how to combat juror bias and ultimately prevent wrongful conviction
In this webinar, there will be a discussion of the findings of Dr. Schulte's qualitative research that entailed interviewing 12 wrongful conviction jurors. The research revealed juror tendency to view defense attorneys as incompetent, unprepared, and unprofessional while viewing prosecutors as prepared, convincing, and professional. Jurors perceived prosecution case theory as more complete and overall believable than defense attorney case theory, which was described as incomplete or inadequate. Jurors generally assigned credibility to and empathized with prosecution witnesses but assigned insincerity and disdain to defense witnesses. Furthermore, pro-prosecutorial juror bias heavily influenced juror understanding and interpretation of beyond a reasonable doubt, burden or proof, and innocent until proven guilty. Jurors exhibited an implicit negative bias towards defense attorneys and defense witnesses, directly impacting their decision-making in wrongful conviction cases. Criminal justice professionals awareness of this issue is limited, and attorneys must address potential juror bias head-on to prevent faulty determinations of guilt.
Danielle Schulte Lewis, Ph.D., has been making a difference in the criminal justice system and for indigent defendants for over 14 years. Danielle is zealous and unwavering in her advocacy for vulnerable populations. She has served as a criminal defense investigator with the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s office since 2008 and has been recognized repeatedly for her outstanding investigation skills and dedication to the criminal court system and social justice.
Danielle obtained a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology in November of 2020. Her dissertation, titled Wrongful Conviction: Exploring Errors in Juror Cognition, was published in ProQuest in October 2020. Her doctoral research tackled juror bias and wrongful conviction and she was able to uniquely capture the experience of actual jurors who served on wrongful conviction cases. The results of her research ignited further interest in educating attorneys and criminal justice system employees on the intricacies of juror decision-making and the ways in which juror bias manifests in court cases. In addition, Danielle is working hard to spread awareness pertaining to her research findings via presentations, scholarly publications, and expert consultations so they may be used to target evidence-based reform in the criminal justice and jury system.
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