The Memory of Jurors

Anders Sandberg, Walter P. Sinnott-Armstrong and Julian Savulescu

in Memory and Law

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199920754
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950133 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Series in Neuroscience, Law, and Philosophy

The Memory of Jurors

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Cognitive performance of the participants has crucial significance for legal trials, sometimes making the difference between fair and unfair verdicts. Jury members are expected to passively listen to long arguments, often about unfamiliar subjects, retain that information and then perform an unbiased deliberation to reach a just verdict. There are many natural cognitive limitations that impair this process: inattention, sleepiness, stress, the fallibility of human memory and our cognitive biases. Could juror cognition be improved, and would this improve the legal process? This chapter compares external aids such as notetaking with biomedical aids such as cognition enhancement drugs. It appears likely that enhancement drugs might improve juror cognition if used well, and in any case at least some jurors are likely already using them. There is also the possibility that some of them might introduce cognitive biases. However, given the low bar required for juror competence these biases might be regarded as acceptable, especially compared to the biases inherent in the deliberation process itself.

Keywords: cognition enhancement, juries, cognitive bias, trial performance, enhancer drugs, note taking

Chapter.  7085 words. 

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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