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48 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj48 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 48 No 1. February 2009 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.2008.00539.x
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-12




        Vicarious Traumatisation as a

        Consequence of Jury Service


        NOELLE ROBERTSON, GRAHAM DAVIES and
                    ALICE NETTLEINGHAM
 Noelle Robertson is Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Graham Davies
     is Professor Emeritus and Alice Nettleingham is Graduate Student,
                School of Psychology, University of Leicester


Abstract: Recent research on past-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has highlighted the
adverse consequences of trauma, not just for victims, but also for those who interact with
them: vicarious traumatisation. British citizens are required to sit on juries, where they
may be exposed to gruesome exhibits and harrowing testimony: can such experiences also
lead to vicarious traumatisation? Previous studies have demonstrated that some jurors do
suffer both short- and longer-term trauma from jury service, both from hearing evidence
and deliberation in the jury room. A first exploratory survey of Britishjurors confirms that
a minority of jurors are so affected. The article calls for modifications to the current
arbitrary allocation of jurors and for greater provision of information and guidance to
minimise the negative consequences of an essential civic duty.

Keywords:  juries; stress; vicarious traumatisation

To serve as a member of ajury is considered a civic duty, not only in Britain,
but also in the United States and most Commonwealth   countries (Vidmar
2000;  Kaplan  and  Martin 2006). In  England  and  Wales, following the
Criminal Justice Act 2003, almost all citizens aged between the ages of 18
and  69 years are now eligible for jury service (the exceptions being those
with serious mental health problems  or significant criminal records). On
average,  some  390,000  citizens serve on juries each  year, selected at
random  from  those on the electoral role (Jury Central Summoning Bureau
2007).  Once  at court, all prospective jurors are shown   a film briefly
outlining their duties and allocation ofjurors to particular trials is arbitrary.
Some  jurors will be selected to serve on cases involving crimes against the
person  and will be exposed  to testimony from visibly distressed victims,
which  will frequently be graphic and shocking. They will be expected to
handle  exhibits and examine  explicit and gruesome photographs.  When
they retire to the jury room, they will have to rehearse such evidence and
weigh  up its significance for the guilt of the accused before reaching a
verdict. They  may  find themselves in a minority on  the jury, trying to
change  the minds  of others while resisting pressures to conform to the

                                    1
0  2009 The Authors
journal compilation 0 2009 The Howard League and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK

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