Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Empirical evidence demonstrates that the inclusion of improper statements by the prosecutor during closing argument increases death penalty recommendations (Platania & Moran, 1999). Judicial instructions to disregard improper statements have been found to moderate this effect (Platania, Small, Fusco, Miller & Perrault, 2008). The present study further explored the effectiveness of judicial instruction as a legal safeguard and examined the role of individual differences in explaining individuals’ acceptance of prosecutorial misconduct. One hundred and twenty four jury-eligible individuals viewed a videotape based on the penalty phase of a capital trial (Brooks v. State, 1979). Results revealed that attitudes toward the death penalty, instruction comprehension and mood predict individuals’ acceptance of misconduct. Judicial instructions had limited effectiveness as a legal safeguard.



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