Handle with care: jury deliberation and demeanour-based assessments of witness credibility

Chalmers, J. , Leverick, F. and Munro, V. E. (2022) Handle with care: jury deliberation and demeanour-based assessments of witness credibility. International Journal of Evidence and Proof, 26(4), pp. 381-406. (doi: 10.1177/13657127221120955)

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It is unclear how effectively jurors perform their task of assessing witness credibility. Drawing on evidence from a mock jury study involving 863 mock jurors deliberating across 64 juries, and building on existing research, this paper explores juries’ reliance on demeanour. While jurors make use of factors which the research literature suggests are often appropriate credibility markers, for example external consistency of accounts, there is cause for concern over the nuance with which jurors apply those assessments in high stakes contexts. The manner in which jurors look to manner of delivery as evidence of credibility is also problematic. The paper makes the case for a more circumspect approach towards jurors’ use of demeanour assessments. At a minimum, this requires that judicial directions no longer advocate their reliability, but remind jurors of the complexities associated with such assessments and the need to treat any conclusions grounded on presentational cues with caution.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Scottish Government and undertaken by the authors and others (the Scottish Jury Research).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chalmers, Professor James and Leverick, Professor Fiona
Authors: Chalmers, J., Leverick, F., and Munro, V. E.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:International Journal of Evidence and Proof
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1740-5572
Published Online:24 August 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Evidence and Proof 26(4): 381-406
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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