This research will examine whether voir dire results in a more conviction prone jury in cases where juveniles are tried in adult courts. Juveniles who are transferred to adult court have the same rights as adult criminal defendants, but are the rights of juvenile offenders to a representative and impartial jury abrogated when they are transferred to adult court? This research will use four studies to address the following questions: Do judges ask veniremembers questions about the possible penalty during voir dire in youthful offender cases and what effect do these questions have on juror decisions? Are juvenile waiver attitudes correlated with demographic variables such that minority group members are likely to be excluded from jury service because of their anti-waiver attitudes? Does the inclusion of jurors with anti-waiver attitudes increase the ability of a jury to evaluate the quality of the evidence presented? Finally, does exposure to voir dire questions in juvenile offender cases result in a more conviction-prone jury? To answer these questions, the principal investigator will collect and content analyze transcripts from a sample of cases in which juveniles were tried in adult courts. This initial exploration will allow the researchers to characterize the typical voir dire that occurs in these cases. In Study 2, the researchers will examine whether particular attitudes and demographic characteristics are correlated with anti-juvenile waiver attitudes. In Study 3, a jury simulation will be conducted in which half of the juries include jurors with anti-waiver attitudes and half do not, varying the strength of the evidence. To investigate whether exposure to "juvenile qualification" produces a more conviction prone jury, the researchers will expose some jurors to a simulated voir dire in a juvenile offender case and other jurors to a voir dire that lacks questions about juvenile waiver attitudes in Study 4. The results of these four studies will provide information about the voir dire process in juvenile waiver cases.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Christopher J. Zorn
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Florida International University
United States
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