Juror stress: identification and intervention.

T. B. Feldmann and R. A. Bell,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 21(4): 409-17, 1993.
The impact of stressful life events has been studied extensively in the psychiatric literature. Crisis debriefing techniques have been shown to be effective in decreasing psychiatric morbidity following exposure to these stressful situations. Stress reactions and crisis debriefing have been reported in many groups including combat veterans, survivors of natural disasters and accidents, victims of violence, and law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to such events. One group that has not been studied extensively is jurors who are exposed to potentially disturbing material introduced as evidence in trials. Stress reactions in jurors and the value of debriefing of juries have been described by us in an earlier work. This paper describes debriefing sessions with three juries exposed to emotionally distressing material during murder trials. In comparing our experiences with these sets of jurors a number of common reactions were identified. These are discussed and a model for jury debriefing is presented.