Misinformation and Jury Selection

It is an unfortunate consequence of our modern news system that it is easy to seek out news that fits your exact worldview, and facts are twisted to conform to it.  That people are so quick to digest this misinformation without challenging it is a symptom of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a phenomenon where we find it easier to believe a statement when it is based on our pre-existing worldview. The wording of the statement can also affect our tendency to accept it.

This insight into the human belief system could be very valuable to jury selection, both in terms of understanding juror biases and of trying to correct the misinformation that could inhibit the search for justice. For starters, it could be very useful to determining biases to be able to present phrases worded in specific ways and have the jurors either accept or reject it. It is pretty common to have the jurors answer statements like that, but understanding the effect of wording on their answers could make a difference in the accuracy of the results.

In terms of correcting misinformation, voir dire might be a great opportunity to educate jurors on the truths of the justice system. In my observation, many jurors have absorbed misinformation from the news, television, and movies, and the resultant beliefs about the system inhibit their ability to be fair jurors. Although it is unlikely the correction of that misinformation will occur in one voir dire session, it could be an important step to increasing the quality of jurors in general, due both to the direct absorption of the information and to the spreading of it by word of mouth.

Article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-stop-misinformation-from-becoming-popular-belief


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