Dateline: August, 2006

Does gruesome evidence matter in jury decision-making?

Gruesome evidence can influence juror verdicts, though the content of the gruesome evidence – verbal or photographic – matters.

In a recent study by Bright & Goodman-Delahunty (2006), gruesome verbal evidence did not affect mock jurors emotionally, and had no impact on the conviction rate.  Gruesome photographic evidence, on the other hand, made jurors angrier at the defendant, and increased the conviction rate. Juror anger was the reason gruesome photographs increased the conviction rate.

Interestingly, the conviction rate from even neutral photographs was significantly higher than the conviction rate without photographic evidence.

Source Bright, D.A., & Goodman-Delahunty, J. (2006). Gruesome evidence and emotion: Anger, blame, and jury decision-making. Law and Human Behavior, 30, pp. 183-202.