Are legal experts better decision makers than jurors? A psychological evaluation of the role of juries in the 21st century

Curley, Lee John and Neuhaus, Till (2024). Are legal experts better decision makers than jurors? A psychological evaluation of the role of juries in the 21st century. Journal of Criminal Psychology (In press).

Abstract

The Scottish government hope to pilot judge only rape trials to increase the woefully low rape conviction rates in Scotland. The reasoning is that by removing jurors, the court will be attenuating the role that rape myths and other cognitive and social biases have on conviction rates. However, a plethora of research from cognitive and social psychology, legal literature, and decision making science has shown that experts, including judges and other legal professionals, may be no less biased than laypeople. In this review, we outline the research highlighting that experts may also be biased, why biases in judges can be elicited, and potential alternative recommendations (i.e., deselecting jurors who score highly on rape myths and providing training/education for jurors). Furthermore, piloting with real judges, in real trials, may not be best practice. Therefore, we recommend that any piloting is preceded by experimental research.

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