Special Measures in Rape Trials

In England and Wales, adult rape complainants appearing in court may be afforded special measures protection in the form of screens, live links and the use of video recorded testimony. These arrangements are designed to reduce the stress of testifying but critics have worried that they may have an undue influence on juror decision making. Defence lawyers have expressed concern that the use of special measures may prejudice the defence by suggesting to the jury that the complainant needs protection from the defendant. Others have voiced fears that the effect of video-mediated testimony, in particular, may be diminished relative to evidence delivered 'live and in the flesh', leading jurors to view complainants who take advantage of these measures less positively. Against this backdrop, the aim of this research is to empirically examine the influence of the use of special measures by adult rape complainants on mock juror deliberation.

In a context in which the Contempt of Court Act prohibits the conduct of research with 'real' jurors, this project will undertake a series of rape trial reconstructions. Four mini-trials will be observed by an audience of mock jurors who will then conduct deliberations which will be recorded and analysed.