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Psychology Doctoral Dissertation Defense: Devon LaBat

This is a past event.

Friday, March 8 at 11:00am to 1:00pm

DM - Deuxieme Maison, 258
11200 SW 8th ST, Deuxieme Maison, Miami, Florida 33199

The Effects of A Forensic Science Informational Video on Attorney Decision-Making

A common recommendation to keep improper forensic testimony out of the courtroom is to avoid using misleading language in forensic expert testimony. Attorneys have a pivotal role in ensuring that improper forensic testimony is not heard by jurors. The present two studies aimed to explore attorneys’ evaluations of forensic expert testimony and to test the utility of a Forensic Science Informational (FSI) video in sensitizing attorneys to improper forensic testimony. Both studies utilized a 2 (assigned attorney role: prosecutor vs defense) x 2 (FSI video: absent vs present) x 2 (forensic expert testimonial quality: low vs high) between-participants design. In studies 1 and 2, participants (undergraduate students, N = 529 and legally educated individuals, N = 244, respectively) watched a forensic expert’s testimony in the context of a retrial. Participants rated the forensic expert, the expert’s testimony, the forensic evidence, and made decisions about how to move forward with the case. Results indicated that assigned attorney role impacted case outcomes. Defense attorney assigned participants were more likely to exclude the forensic testimony and the forensic evidence in a retrial compared to prosecutor assigned participants. Prosecutor assigned participants were more willing to resolve the case via a plea agreement, whereas defense attorney assigned participants preferred to take the case back to trial. Prosecutor assigned participants also indicated that they would offer more years in prison and a higher monetary fine in a plea deal than defense attorney assigned participants would recommend to the defendant. The FSI video interacted with testimonial quality and sensitized participants to low-quality testimony via their ratings of the forensic expert and the expert’s testimony. The FSI video also undesirably lowered participants’ ratings of the forensic evidence regardless of the forensic testimony’s quality. The present findings suggest that an attorney’s role may impact case outcomes, but not attorneys’ evaluations of a forensic expert, testimony, or evidence. The FSI video may be useful in improving attorneys’ evaluations of a forensic expert and testimony, but more research is needed to improve the video before it may be used to aid attorney decision-making.

Major Professor: Dr. Jacqueline R. Evans

Event Type

Academics, Lectures & conferences


Students, Faculty & Staff, General Public


Department of Psychology


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