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.