Video-recorded police interview vs live evidence: How does evidence format influence perceptions of adult rape complainant testimony? Nina Westera, Mark Kebbell & Becky Milne
Thank you to… • Professor Mark Kebbell, ARC CEPS, Griffith University • Dr Becky Milne, Portsmouth University • Associate Professor Blake McKimmie, University of Queensland • Associate Professor Barabara Masser, University of Queensland
The difficulty in prosecuting rape cases • Rape is difficult to investigate and prosecute (Daly & Bouhours, 2010) • Some reasons for this: • it is often one persons word against another • strength of evidence has a strong influence on guilt judgments (Daly & Bouhours, 2010; Devine et al., 2001; Visher, 1987) • rape myths bias judgements into placing blame on the complainant (Estrich, 1989; Schuller, McKimmie, Masser & Klippenstine, 2010; Temkin & Krahé, 2008) • Justice system must optimise ‘system variables’ (Wells, 1979)
Benefits of video-recorded evidence • Improved quantity and accuracy of information • (Ebbinghaus 1885; Fisher & Geiselman, 1992; Loftus & Greene, 1980; Westera, Kebbell & Milne, 2013) • 2. Improved process for complainant • (Burton, Evans and Sanders, 2006; Hamlyn et al., 2004; Westera, Kebbell & Milne, 2011) • Using a complainant’s video-recorded police interview in the place of live evidence-in-chief
But… • Video-evidence is seldom used in practice • Legal professionals are concerned about the: • Video medium • Format of the interview – too long, narratives are ineffective, too much irrelevant information • (Criminal Justice Joint Inspection, 2009; Stern, 2010; Westera, Kebbell & Milne, 2012)
Does testimony format influence perceptions of credibility? • 5 experiments • N = 503 community sample (survey company) • Written case summary • Simulated rape complainant evidence in chief with computer generated voice • Acquaintance rape scenario based on a real case • Regression analyses explore if testimony evaluation, rape myth acceptance and manipulated variable were predictors of credibility and guilt
Study 1 Does narrative (vs traditional) format influence perceptions credibility? Narrative = less questions, longer responses and overall longer testimony
Traditional vs Narrative evidence • Testimony evaluation and rape myth acceptance were predictors of complainant credibility • But, testimony format was not…
Study 2 Does irrelevant information in testimony influence perceptions credibility?
Relevant vs Irrelevant Evidence • Testimony evaluation and rape myth acceptance were predictors of complainant credibility • But, legal relevance was not…
Studies 3a, b & c Does the number of questions asked, the overall length or the response length influence perceptions credibility?
Study 3a Does the number of questions asked by the prosecutor influence perceptions credibility?
Many vs Few Questions • Testimony evaluation was a predictor of complainant credibility, but rape myth acceptance was not • The number of questions asked asked was a predictor of credibility, the more questions the more credible….
Study 3b Does the overall length of the complainants testimony influence perceptions credibility?
Short vsLong Overall Length • Testimony evaluation and rape myth acceptance were predictors of complainant credibility • But, overall length was not…
Study 3c Does the complainant’s response length influence perceptions credibility?
Short vsLong Responses • Testimony evaluation and rape myth acceptance were predictors of complainant credibility • But, response length was not…
Conclusion • How testimony is elicited has little effect on perceptions of credibility (Fisher, Mello & McCauley, 1999; Lind et al., 1976) • Number of questions may be an exception (prosecutor behaviour may increase social attributions of credibility?) • Jurors judge legal relevance differently to prosecutors • It all comes down to how credible the complainant is…