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Juries, the digital courtroom and special measures

Researchers: Professor Cheryl Thomas

By Nuffield Foundation

Project overview

‘Special measures’ were introduced to assist vulnerable and intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence.  However, to date no assessment has been made of their effect on juries.  A number of special measures involve digital presentation of evidence, and the new HMCTS Court Reform Programme also proposes wide-reaching changes in the presentation of evidence.   Professor Cheryl Thomas from the Faculty of Laws at UCL is undertaking the first empirical research study of the impact of special measures and digital presentation of evidence on jury decision-making. She is using a rigorous, multi-method approach to understanding jury decision-making and is working exclusively with real juries at court.  

This research project is designed to answer the following key questions on this issue:

  • How does the type of evidence and the way it is presented in court affect juror perceptions of evidence and jury decision-making?
  • How are juror perceptions of evidence (and jury verdicts) effected by whether evidence is given: (a) in court or remotely? (b) live or pre-recorded?
  • If evidence is presented on digital screens how are juror perceptions (and jury verdicts) affected by: (a) Type and size of screens? (b) Quality levels (visual and audio)?  

While this research focuses on juror perceptions and jury decision-making, the findings should have relevance for other aspects of the digital courtroom where decision-making is taking place virtually (amongst judges and counsel).


  • Professor Cheryl Thomas
    University College London

  • Ash Patel
    Programme Head, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation

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