Judicial intervention in court cases involving witnesses with and without learning disabilities

O'Kelly, Caitriona M.E., Kebbell, Mark R., Hatton, Chris, and Johnson, Shane D. (2003) Judicial intervention in court cases involving witnesses with and without learning disabilities. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 8 (2). pp. 229-240.

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper outlines the extent and nature of judicial interventions in court cases involving witnesses with learning disabilities and from the general population.

Method: Court transcripts, mainly concerning serious sexual crime, were obtained from a total of 32 witnesses, 16 involving people with learning disabilities and 16 involving people from the general population. Each intervention made by a judge was documented and coded into one of three categories: interactions with witnesses, interactions with lawyers, and interactions with the jury.

Results: No significant differences were found between the judicial treatment of witnesses with learning disabilities and those from the general population. In particular, judges did not intervene more frequently tosimplify lawyers' questions, call breaks, suggest methods by which a witness could reply, ask lawyers to simplify their questions, prevent oppression of the witness and move the lawyer on, and ensure the witness could understand the question.

Conclusions: The implications of the findings are that judges should intervene, as they are legally entitled, to ensure that witnesses with and without learning disabilities give the most complete and accurate evidence possible.

Item ID: 13793
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 2044-8333
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2012 03:31
FoR Codes: 18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1899 Other Law and Legal Studies > 189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940499 Justice and the Law not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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