Face-to-face confrontation: Effects of closed-circuit technology on children’s eyewitness testimony and jurors’ decisions.

Goodman, G. S., Tobey, A. E., Batterman-Faunce, J. M., Orcutt, H., Thomas, S., Shapiro, C., & Sachsenmaier, T. (1998). Face-to-face confrontation: Effects of closed-circuit technology on children’s eyewitness testimony and jurors’ decisions. Law and Human Behavior, 22, 165-203.

The present study was designed to examine effects of closed-circuit technology on children’s testimony and jurors’ perceptions of child witnesses. For the study, a series of elaborately staged mock trials was held. First, 5- to 6-year-old and 8- to 9-year-old children individually participated in a play session with an unfamiliar male confederate. Approximately 2 weeks later, children individually testified about the event at downtown city courtroom. Mock juries composed of community recruits viewed the trials, with the child’s testimony presented either live in open court or over closed-circuit television. Mock jurors made ratings concerning the child witness and the defendant, and deliberated to reach a verdict. Results indicated that overall, older children were more accurate witnesses than younger children. However, older, not younger children produced more inaccurate information in free recall. Compared to live testimony in open court, use of closed-circuit technology led to decreased suggestibility for younger children. Testifying in open court was also associated with children experiencing greater pretrial anxiety. Closed-circuit technology did not diminish fact finders’ abilities to discriminate accurate from inaccurate child testimony, nor did it directly bias jurors against the defendant. However, closed-circuit testimony biased jurors against child witnesses. Moreover, jurors tended to base their impressions of witness credibility on perceived confidence and consistency. Implications for the use of closed-circuit technology when children testify are discussed.

No impact of victim age, medium of victim testimony (closed-circuit vs. open court), or juror gender. Moderate effect of defendant behavior; confederates who enacted guilty behavior convicted more often but many false acquittals and high rate of hung juries. Child witness testifying by closed-circuit perceived as least credible.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9566121