JUDGES INTERVENTIONS AND PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
O'Kelly, C.M.E. and Kebbell, M.R., University of Birmingham, Hatton, C., University of Lancaster and Johnson, S.D., University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
This paper outlines how Judges control court cases involving witnesses with intellectual disabilities and from the general population. Court transcripts were obtained from a total of 32 witnesses, 16 from people with learning disabilities and 16 people from the general population. Each intervention made by a Judge was documented and coded into one of three categories: interactions with witnesses; interactions with counsel; and, interactions with the jury. The most frequent interventions concerned clarifying an issue with the witness, questioning counsel to clarify a witness's comments, and difficulty hearing the witness. No significant differences were found between the treatment of witnesses with learning disabilities and those from the general population, indicating that the needs of witnesses with learning disabilities were not being taken into account. The results will be discussed in relation to future directions for research and applications to informing the Judiciary concerning appropriate methods of examining witnesses with learning disabilities. Judges have a crucial role in ensuring that fair examination of witnesses in general occurs but this role is particularly important for witnesses with learning disabilities.