The Trial Process I: Pre-Trial Issues Flashcards Preview

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What is the over-arching goal of pre-trial procedures?

The individuals involved in the trial are able to understand the basic elements of the judicial process and that they are not impaired in their ability to competently participate


Competence to stand trial

The issue of whether an individual is fully available to understand the situation


Legal standard of competence to stand trial

Whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding - and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.


Psychological aspects of competency (3)

- Does the defendant understand the basic concepts related to the trial? - Do they understand the roles of the main actors in the trial? - Do they understand their legal/constitutional rights?


Tests/assessments for competency

Competency Assessment Instruments (E.g. Competency Screening Test)


Ultimate Trier of Fact

The entity that determines facts of a trial


What is important to do when the jury is the ultimate trier of fact?

Ensure that it is an objective entitiy


Areas of psychological research in relation to pre-trial issues:

- Change of venue
- Jury size
- Jury selection


What would require a change of venue?

If the trial is going to be subject to bias due to the location of the trial (e.g the defendant is too popular - like in Bernie)


Legal standard for change of venue

In order to attain a change of venue, one must demonstrate that prejudicial pre-trial publicity or local knowledge and continuing passion must be so inflamed to make it nearly impossible to select an impartial jury.


Psychological aspects of need for venue change

- Empirical proof of prejudicial pre-trial publicity or local passion - Empirical proof of the impact of the above (on a jury) - Empirical proof of less impact at another venue


Example of Paul Bernado trial

The trial was subject to a publication ban which applied to Canadian newspapers and media, and the venue was moved to Toronto from St. Catharines, where the murders occurred


Tests/assessments of requirement to change venue

- 5 step survey process


Step 1 of the five step survey process in changing venue

- 1 - get a reliable base rate sample: Sample of eligible jurors from community of interest


step 2 of the five step survey process in changing venue

2 - reliable comparative sample - of eligible jurors from a random yet similar jurisdiction


Step 3 of five step survey process in changing venue

3 - questions = asking questions similar to those asked within the legal context


Step 4 of the five step survey process in changing venue

Analysis of data - quantitative and qualitative


Step 5 of the five step survey process in changing venue

Evidence - introducing the results through an expert


Issue of Jury Size

Ensuring that the size of the jury does not cause disadvantage to trial participants


Legal standard for jury size

It must be demonstrated that the size of the panel successfully fulfills the 'purpose of the jury' (i.e, to act as a safeguard against prosecutorial and judicial bias or corruption)


Psychological research on jury size (6 vs 12)

- smaller juries are less likely to provide a context for effective group deliberation than larger juries
-non-guilty individuals are more likely to be convicted by smaller juries
- hold-outs more likely to change their vote without an ally and lower likelihood of ally in smaller jury
- Smaller juries are less likely to represent a cross--section of society


In relation to jury size in 1973 the colgrave vs battin trial did what?

Allowed 6-member jury for civil cases


What did the Williams vs Florida trial in 1968 dictate about jury size re: criminal trials?

6-member jury allowed for criminal cases EXCEPT capital trials


What did the Ballew vs Georgia (1978) case say re: jury size

5-member juries are unconstitutional because the size violates the purpose of the jury


Jury selection issues

Ensuring that the members of the jury are not likely to employ 'extra-evidential' factors in their decisions


Legal standard of jury selection

to assemble a representative cross section of the community AND ensure that any pre-existing biases or prejudices do not IMPACT their ability to fairly assess the evidence.


The venire process

- identification of potential jurors (e.g health card registration, electoral rolls)
- Notification to attend including questions relating to exclusion (disqualification/exemption based on age, citizenship etc) = creation of venire (jury pool) - 150 people
- Removal from the venire relating to excuses (e.g hardship, lack of comprehension of the language of court)


The selection process: Voir Dire

Purpose is to examine those in the venire to select the final 12
- "The visual examination" Voir Dire
- Varies across jurisdictions (e.g australia, Canada, US)
- Each side may ask for the removal of an individual as a juror based on a challenge for cause or through a limited number of peremptory challenges


Challenge of a cause

Proof of a bias that would impede the ability to be objective


Peremptory challenge

no basis for dismissal required