Date of Award

8-2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Kramer

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Carlson

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Wait

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Michael Pritchard

Abstract

Trial attorneys, historically, have used both scientific and unscientific selection techniques to empanel a jury, and these methods continue to be used in contemporary courtrooms. The ability of these techniques to pick a 'good” jury has been shown to have limited utility. This ineffectiveness may be due, in part, to a false assumption about the passivity of prospective jurors during questioning. An interactionist perspective sees individuals as much more active in that they control the information given out. Most potential jurors offer genuine presentations of self during jury selection in that they truthfully respond to the questions posed by courtroom actors. However, it has been found that some prospective jurors have their own goals and actively alter their presentations of self so the courtroom actors will define them as suitable or unsuitable for jury service, consistent with these goals. This suggests that certain potential jurors may enhance or suppress specific biases or willingness to serve on a jury to fit their needs. For these potential jurors it is suggested that they play an active role in the jury selection process as the impressions they give out become a factor in determining whether they will be empaneled on a jury.

These contrived, strategic presentations of self can be aided or hindered by the manner in which questions are posed to a potential juror. Questions asked of the entire panel, where they respond as a group, are shown to aid the presentational efforts of some potential jurors while one-on-one questioning makes a non-genuine presentation of self more difficult for them to manage. This demonstrates one's presentational strategies are mediated by the context within the questions are given to potential jurors. Because of this effect, it is suggested that individual questioning is a much more effective way to deal with strategic self-presentational efforts of some potential jurors during voir dire.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons

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