Joint trials and prejudice

a review and critique of the report to the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

One of the lesser known tasks of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was to investigate responses within the legal system to allegations of such abuse, including the procedural and evidentiary rules surrounding joinder of complaints by multiple complainants against the same defendant. The Commission itself commissioned an empirical study and a report on the effects of joinder of charges on jury reasoning and decision making, which, at over 370 pages in length is quite demanding to digest, and, we would argue, open to criticism on methodological and interpretive grounds. This article reviews and critiques the report’s methodology and findings, and argues for interpretations and conclusions contrary to those contained in the report, to the effect that the study did provide significant evidence supporting the prejudicial effect of joinder and failed to adequately controvert theories of
prejudice through character bias, accumulation prejudice and inter-case conflation of evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-759
Number of pages37
JournalMonash University Law Review
Volume43
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • prior convictions
  • prejudice
  • evidence

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