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CJB102

Author Judy Cashmore and Lily Trimboli
Published September 2006
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 102
Subject Court processes and delay; Juries; Sexual assault and violence
Keywords child sexual assault, jurors, trial, Child Sexual Assault Specialist Jurisdiction

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Summary

Aim

This study explored the perceptions of 277 jurors from 25 juries hearing child sexual assault trials held in four District Courts in Sydney between May 2004 and December 2005.

Abstract

This study explored the perceptions of 277 jurors from 25 juries hearing child sexual assault trials held in four District Courts in Sydney between May 2004 and December 2005. Jurors completed a short, structured questionnaire measuring their reactions to the use of closed-circuit television and pre-recorded evidence in child sexual assault trials, their understanding of the reasons for the use of these special measures, their perceptions of the fairness of the trial process for both the child complainants and the defendants, and their perceptions of various aspects of the child complainants’ behaviour in these matters. Jurors indicated that they understood the reasons why special measures were used to present children’s evidence, and that they perceived them to be fair to both the child complainant and the defendant. Consistent with previous research, the more confident and consistent children appeared to the jurors, the more convincing or credible their testimony was perceived to be. Also consistent with previous research and with the concerns outlined by a number of inquiries, jurors rated children’s treatment by defence lawyers during cross-examination as significantly less fair than children’s treatment by either the judges or the crown prosecutors. Children were perceived to have more difficulty understanding the questions asked by defence lawyers and were less confident and more stressed when answering these questions than when answering questions asked by crown prosecutors. Jurors perceived that the court treatment of defendants was fair and respectful. Their concerns about being a juror, and the perceived benefits of serving on a jury and doing their civic duty, were very similar to those reported by jurors in other studies in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

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