SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: Mock jurors (N = 363) read a mock trial transcript that examined the influence of age of witness (child vs. adult), the witness’s relationship to the crime (bystander vs. victim), and the type of eyewitness identification decision (positive vs. foil vs. nonidentification) on their perception of the witness’s accuracy for other crime details, credibility, and verdict. The offender’s physical description was perceived as more accurate with a positive versus foil identification. The perceived accuracy of the offender’s description did not vary with a positive identification versus nonidentification. Child victims were perceived as credible as adult victims, but a child as a bystander was perceived as less credible than an adult as a bystander. More guilty verdicts were rendered with a positive identification versus a foil identification or a nonidentification. Guilty verdicts were made at a comparable rate when the witness made a foil identification or a nonidentification.
Abstract: Nullification constitutes a small, though important, part of what makes jury trial decision-making distinctive. The increasing bureaucratization of American criminal law means that what was thought to be the exercise of ordinary jury judgment has been transformed into nullification. Understandings that locate “We the People’s” constituent power in sovereign will tend sharply to distinguish the extraordinary moment of constitution creation from the business of ordinary legality. Consequently, those understandings have difficulty imagining a nullifying jury’s doing anything other than defying the will of the people. Hannah Arendt provides an understanding of the founding of the Constitution in the prerevolutionary political practices of the colonists that offers an understanding of jury nullification as more continuous with those practices and more continuous with ordinary jury decision-making.