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Send comments to:

Dr. Harmon Hosch

hhosch@utep.edu

 

 

 

The University

of Texas at El Paso

 

Department of Psychology

Institute for the Study of Judicial Processes

117 Psychology Bldg.

El Paso, TX

79968-0553

 

Phone: (915) 747-8032

Fax: (915) 747-6553

 

 

 

Institute for the Study of Judicial Processes

 

Welcome to the UTEP Institute for the Study of Judicial Processesís data website.

            The project for which we are making the data public was an experiment designed to investigate the impact of interpreted testimony on jurorsí and juriesí decisions.  As the Hispanic population of the US increases, more defendants in criminal cases are of Hispanic origin.  Many of these defendants are only fluent in the Spanish language and when they testify in courts of law, do so with the assistance of court interpreters.

            It is also true that the number of Spanish-English bilinguals who serve as jurors trying cases is increasing. A number of theoretically interesting and practically important questions arise when defendants testify in Spanish and jurors are themselves Spanish speaking to various degrees.  Some are monolingual English speakers. Some are English language dominant but understand some Spanish.  Some are Spanish dominant, but understand English to some degree.  It is even true that in some jurisdictions (e.g., New Mexico) monolingual Spanish speakers may serve as jurors. 

            To explore some of these questions and get more information on the process by which jurors decide on the guilt or innocence of criminal defendants and sentence those whom they have found guilty, an experiment was conducted. Mock jurors were recruited from the jury assembly hall of El Paso County, TX. Participants were solicited from the assembled jurors who had been summoned to jury duty and were awaiting assignment to a particular court or to be dismissed.  Those who volunteered to participate were contacted via telephone to arrange a convenient session.  When they arrived at the Institute for the Study of Judicial Processes (formerly the Center for Law and Human Behavior) in the UTEP Psychology Building, they completed an informed consent, a voir dire questionnaire.  In addition, they completed the Los Angeles Epidemiological Catchment Area acculturation scale (Burnam, Telles, Karno, Hough, & Escobar, 1987) and additional questionnaires designed to assess the degree to which participants identify with their social groups (Collective Self Esteem Scale, Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992 augmented by items from other sources).

            Jurors were then exposed to one of six videotaped versions of a case in which the defendant was being tried for burglary of a habitation.  The victim, Ms. Martin and the arresting officer of the El Paso Police Department both testified for the prosecution.  The defendant, Mr. Medrano testified on his own behalf.  He either testified in English or in Spanish with interpretation into English.  One of three males played the role of Mr. Medrano.  One was of European origin, one of mixed European and Indian background typical of the majority of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and one was of African background. The version shown jurors in any session was randomly determined prior to the session.

            After the judge gave his instructions to the jurors and the tape ended, jurors completed additional questionnaires. They provided their individual pre-deliberation verdicts, a judgment of the degree to which they believed Mr. Medrano actually committed the crime  (from 0% to 100%), responded to a number of questions about the case, and provided a description of the defendant.

            They then were assigned to juries and deliberated as to whether the defendant was or was not guilty as charged. Juries who reached a guilty verdict were asked to recommend a sentence form 2 to 20 years in prison as prescribed by Texas statute for a second degree felony.  They also could recommend a fine of up to $10,000 as provided by Texas law. Jurors serving on juries that convicted also completed a questionnaire probing their beliefs about the sentence. If time remained in the session, jurors also rated each of their fellow jurors on four Likert-type scales.    

If juries acquitted, and time remained in the session, jurors completed the ratings of their fellow jurors.

All jurors were debriefed and dismissed so that sessions would not last longer than 3 hours.  If juries had not reached a verdict in that time, they were declared hung. The data provided by individual jurors can be accessed by downloading the data file named Grant (1,351KB) and opening the file with SPSS.  Jury data may be accessed by downloading the SPSS data file Jury Dataset (194KB).  All variables are labeled and the coding scheme for each is available by clicking on the variable view tab within the SPSS data files.

All jury deliberations were videotaped on a camera inside the jury room.  The taped deliberations have been digitized and are available to researchers from the Center.  Examples can be seen in AVI files Jury 419 (956KB)   and Jury 468 (1,264KB).  These are readable using Windows Media Player 7.1. This program can be downloaded free of charge from: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp.

 

 

References

 Burnam, M. A., Telles, C. A., Karno, M., Hough, R. L., & Escobar, J. I. (1987). Measurement of acculturation in a community population of Mexican-Americans. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 9, 105-130.

Luhtanen, R. & Crocker, J. (1992) A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one's social identity. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 302-318.

 

 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (SES-9905741)

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

 

 

 

 

The University of Texas at El Paso

Department of Psychology

Center for Law and Human Behavior

Revised: 10/23/2002