Volume 28, Issue 2 (April 1983)
Nature of Jury Response to the Expert Witness
Communications to jurors entail not only primary content—the subject matter of the testimony—designated as the message, but also secondary content emanating from the witnesses as sources, from peripheral aspects of the message itself, and from the environment of the trial—designated as the paramessage. Interviews with jurors after a trial involving extensive expert testimony to introduce a new technology for identification evidence, popularly referred to as “voiceprinting,” found they responded mainly to the paramessage. The general implication is that when confronted with complex or confusing testimony, expert or otherwise, jurors will shift their focus to observable characteristics of the sources of the information, or to other ancillary elements of the situation, and will be guided in their response by information and inferences derived from such data.