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Trial, Interrupted: Juror Perceptions of Attorney Objections
Attorneys object at trial to immediately correct errors or to preserve the record for appeal; however, legal scholars caution that objecting can negatively impact the jury. Thus, attorneys are caught in a predicament when deciding whether to object and psycholegal researchers have offered little guidance. Thus, the present studies experimentally isolated the influence of objections on mock-juror verdicts, perceptions of the attorneys, and memory for evidence following an audio trial. Study 1 manipulated the presence of trial interruptions, type of trial interruption, frequency of trial interruption, and sample of mock-jurors. There was a main effect of presence of interruption, such that participants in the interruption conditions were more likely to find the defendant not guilty but had worse memory for information following interruptions than participants in the control group. There were almost no effects of interruption type, interruption frequency, or sample on verdicts, perceptions of the attorneys, or memory for evidence. Study 2 focused only on objections (not other trial interruptions) and manipulated objection frequency and the gender of the objecting attorney. Again, there were almost no effects of objection frequency or attorney gender on verdicts, perceptions of the attorneys, or memory for evidence. These findings have direct implications for attorney practice and suggest that defense attorneys may not need to fear objections negatively impacting how they are perceived during trial.
Reed, Krystia, "Trial, Interrupted: Juror Perceptions of Attorney Objections" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10683667.