Thursday, December 29, 2005

King County's Jury Debriefing Program

[RESEARCH] The current (Dec/Jan. 2006) issue of Washington Law & Politics includes an article about the King County Superior Court's jury debriefing program that provides psychological debriefing after particularly stressful trials. The article ("Jury Box Blues," p. 73) is not on the magazine's website, so I looked for aomething I could link to. (The magazine is available in print in the Reference Area of the law library, but still it's nice to have a link.)

I hit paydirt with King County Superior Court: Evaluation of the Jury Debriefing Program, a report prepared by the National Center for State Courts in 2000, two years after the program was instituted. It outlines how the program is implemented -- bringing in the psychologist is at the discretion of the judge -- and reports on surveys of participants, who found the service very helpful. Skimming the appendix of survey responses and focus group comments provides an interesting glimpse of jurors' experience during high-stress trials.

King County is a leader in this area. At the time of the report in 2000, the National Center for State Courts was aware of only two other similar programs (one in Georgia and one in Kentucky). (Law & Politics says that King County is apparently the only court to institutionalize debriefing.)

See this earlier post for a summary of a law review article about juror stress that, among other things, recommends debriefing programs.

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