This thesis describes research about potential jurors' beliefs about children as witnesses. Jurors' knowledge of memory, suggestibility and child sexual abuse was collected and analysed. The aim was to identify strengths or weaknesses in jurors' knowledge to further inform discussion on whether experts should provide evidence to jurors about children's memory, suggestibility and behaviour, in cases which involve child witnesses. This research showed that jurors from both Australia and America had correct beliefs about some characteristics of child witnesses, however they also had incorrect beliefs. The main areas where both Australian and American jurors' beliefs were incorrect was in the suggestibility and interrogation category, and the memory and ability to testify category; however both had some incorrect beliefs with respect to reactions to sexual abuse and disclosure about sexual abuse categories. These findings support the proposition that expert evidence would be beneficial in improving jurors' knowledge of child witnesses, particularly in the areas of children's suggestibility and responses to interrogation. Jurors' assessment of children's testimony is fundamental in some criminal cases, and therefore information obtained in this study has implications for any case where a child witness testifies.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2009|