Think pieces

Juries shown colour photos see red

Does this photo make you furious or curious?

Judges are sworn to make sure juries aren’t swayed by what they see or hear so they can weigh up the evidence before them (that’s why Justice is meant to be blind and holding scales).

Evidence is deemed inadmissible to the court when it’s seen as prejudicing the jury, such as previous criminal convictions, or even the occasional outburst from those giving evidence.

Now, it seems, colour photos could be a problem, as when juries see red, they see red.

Writing for Pacific Standard, a new article by Tom Jacobs suggests gruesome colour photographs increase convictions by eliciting feelings of disgust and anger by juries.

In a mock-juror study, participants were presented with photographs of a real-life murder trial. Some were randomly shown grisly images in either black and white or colour. Gruesome colour photos made people more likely to vote guilty.

The intervention, in this case, is pretty simple – if there’s blood involved, keep the images black and white. That way, juries won’t be as quick to see red.

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Crime scene photo with thanks to Kyknoord via Flickr