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Copyright (c) 1997 American Psychological Association, Inc. 
Psychology, Public Policy and Law

ARTICLE: PRETRIAL PUBLICITY: The Media, the Law, and Common Sense

June / September, 1997

3 Psych. Pub. Pol. and L. 428


Christina A. Studebaker and Steven D. Penrod, University of Nebraska--Lincoln


As media coverage becomes more extensive and accessible, it is likely to become more difficult to find jurors who have not been exposed to relevant pretrial publicity. Courts' assessments of the likelihood that pretrial publicity has resulted in prejudice against a defendant and of jurors' ability to disregard any prejudice are often based on judicial common sense and often reflect a misappraisal or misunderstanding of the capabilities and weaknesses of human inference and decision making. Therefore, social science evidence concerning pretrial publicity and its effects is crucial. Despite existing research, which consistently demonstrates that pretrial publicity can influence people's attitudes about a publicized case, information regarding the mediational processes by which pretrial publicity exerts its effects is still needed. To this end, this article proposes a multimethod research approach by which mediational mechanisms can be assessed. Issues concerning basic research as well as real-world applications are discussed. 
Article III of the U.S. Constitution provides that criminal trials shall be held in the state where such crimes have been committed. The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution provides as follows:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed."
The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution requires fundamental fairness in the prosecution of federal crimes. The right to an impartial jury in the Sixth Amendment and the fundamental fairness requirement of the Due Process ...

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