The judge as cartographer and guide: the role of fact-based directions in improving juror comprehension

Jonathan Clough, Ben Spivak, James R P Ogloff, Yvette Tinsley, Warren Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Recent decades have seen increasing concern as to the ability of jurors to understand and apply judicial directions in criminal trials. This has prompted reforms ranging from procedural changes to changes to the instructions themselves. While such modifications may improve juror comprehension and application, research indicates that the improvements are modest. The so-called “fact-based” approach to jury instructions incorporates many features that research suggests would improve juror comprehension and application. This article presents results from a large-scale study looking at whether fact-based directions can enhance comprehension and application of the law. The results provide some support for this approach as a means of improving comprehension and application. A particularly important finding was the extent to which group deliberation influences juror comprehension, and the use of fact-based directions may provide a framework to assist decision-making and encourage jurors to focus on the issues in dispute.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-297
Number of pages20
JournalCriminal Law Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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