San Diego Fellows Breakfast Program
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Featured Presentation: “The Impact of Gruesome Photographs on Mock Jury Decisions” with Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law at Northwestern University and American Bar Foundation Research Professor, Janice Nadler.
In both civil and criminal proceedings, judges and juries are faced with a barrage of evidence and argument displayed in visual form – sometimes gruesome in nature. This project investigates how emotionally evocative modes of visual evidence can affect the psychology of jurors’ decision making processes, through influence on emotions, attention to evidence, and legal judgments at the individual and group level. We developed a video of a simulated trial in a murder case, and recruited community members to participate in mock juries either in person (pre-pandemic) or on zoom (post-pandemic). We found that viewing gruesome photos make jurors more conviction prone. Jury deliberation in person attenuated these affects. Surprisingly, jury deliberation online exacerbated the conviction prone tendencies of jurors exposed to gruesome photos. We will explore various interventions such as color v. black-and-white photos, and jury instructions as a potential safeguard.