Tauhere UC Connect public talk: Are rape trials fairer without a jury?
Despite decades of law reform aimed at improving the experience, recent Ministry of Justice research confirms that giving evidence during a trial remains distressing and re-traumatising for rape complainants.
One of the claims made by advocates, survivors, politicians, and law reformers is that “getting rid of the jury” would make a significant difference to the experience of rape complainants.
University of Canterbury Adjunct Professor Elisabeth McDonald’s previous research, published in Rape Myths as Barriers to Fair Trial Process (Canterbury University Press, 2020), examined the reasons for ongoing negative impacts of the rape trial process on complainants despite many attempts at targeted reforms of law and practice.
In this free Tauhere UC Connect public lecture, Professor McDonald will discuss the results of a Law Foundation and University of Canterbury-funded study which compared complainant experience in judge-alone adult rape trials with complainant experience in adult rape jury trials.
This work was undertaken to provide empirically based insights to inform the public debate on changing the decision-maker in rape trials. Professor McDonald will outline the differences between the two modes of trial (such as the provision of written reasons for verdict); the impact of those differences in terms of complainant experience; and the potential for further improvements within current adversarial trial process.