Cameras in the courtroom - The effects of media coverage on witness testimony and juror perceptions

Eugene Borgida, Kenneth G. DeBono, Lee A. Buckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The present experiment examined some of the key psychological issues associated with electronic media coverage (EMC) of courtroom trials. Undergraduate student subjects served as either witnesses or jurors in one of three types of trials:EMC, in which a video camera was present; conventional media coverage (CMC), in which a journalist was present; or, a no-media control, in which no media representative or equipment was present. Students who served as witnesses first viewed a 5-min videotape of a reenacted armed robbery. Days later, these students testified as witnesses to the crime in front of a jury of peers. Measures assessed the following: witness and juror attitudes toward EMC, witness report and juror perceptions of nervousness and media distraction, juror perceptions of witness testimony, and witnesses' ability to accurately recall aspects of the crime event. Results showed that EMC witnesses and jurors had significantly more favorable attitudes toward EMC than participants in the other two conditions. And, although EMC witnesses and jurors both reported greater witness nervousness, distraction, and awareness than those in the CMC condition, the EMC experience did not impair witnesses' ability to accurately recall the details of the crime or witnesses' ability to communicate effectively. The psychological and legal policy implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-509
Number of pages21
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 1990


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