The Efficacy of Legal Safeguards to Improper Prosecutor Argument

with Rachel Small


In a 2 x 4 + 1 between-subjects experiment, 140 participants were exposed to improper prosecutor argument as well as victim impact evidence and non-statutory mitigating evidence. The ability of legal safeguards to neutralize improper prosecutor argument was tested. Dependent measures included sentence recommendation, consideration of both prosecutor argument and non-statutory mitigating and aggravating evidence. Preliminary analyses demonstrated a significant relationship between legal safeguards and jurors’ perceptions of prosecutorial misconduct. In addition, preliminary results indicate a significant IV/DV association between legal safeguard and sentence. A theoretically relevant path model was conducted using multiple regression analysis, and identified mediating effects of Attitudes Toward the Death Penalty on the relationship between affective and cognitive processes and

Rachel presented the results of her thesis as a paper presentation at the annual meeting of American Psychology-Law Society in March 2012 in San Juan, PR.