Jurors’ Perception of Witnesses with Intellectual Disabilities and the Influence of Expert Evidence
Purpose The aim of this study was to assess mock-jurors' perceptions of the evidence of witnesses with intellectual disabilities either with or without expert evidence and in comparison with witnesses from the general population. Method Sixty participants read transcripts of a mock trial focusing on the testimony of an eyewitness. Participants were assigned to one of three groups. The first was told that the witness was a person from the general population. The second was told that the witness had mild learning disabilities. The third group was told that the witness had mild learning disabilities and was given expert evidence concerning his abilities. Results While mock-jurors perceive witnesses with learning disabilities to be fundamentally honest, they are reluctant to rely on the evidence provided by witnesses with learning disabilities. Expert evidence can go some way to ameliorating the negative perceptions of the reliability of witnesses with learning disabilities. Conclusions Expert evidence can provide jurors with a certain degree of insight and understanding of an individual witness with intellectual disabilities that potentially increases the likelihood of achieving justice.
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities