Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Professor Louise Ellison

Professor of Law

I joined the School of Law from the University of Manchester in 2003, having also previously taught at the University of Reading. 

Research Interests

Victims/witnesses, credibility assessment, sexual violence, witness preparation, juries, access to justice.

Recent funded research projects include a study funded by the AHRC examining the impact of preparation on witness accuracy (with J. Wheatcroft) and an ESRC funded project exploring the impact of special measures use on rape juror deliberations (with V. Munro).

Teaching

I teach in the areas of Evidence Law, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

PhD Supervision

I currently supervise PhDs exploring criminal justice responses to allegations of rape in Kuwait and juror understanding of DNA evidence.

I am keen to supervise promising students in any of my research areas:

criminal justice responses to sexual and domestic violence; victim policy; treatment of various victim / defendant populations including children, individuals with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other 'vulnerable'  groups; the conduct of criminal trials; prosecutorial decision-making; the law of evidence; criminal law.   

Key Publications

Journal articles

  • Ellison L, Munro VE, ‘Telling tales’: exploring narratives of life and law within the (mock) jury room’, Legal Studies, 35.2 (2015), 201-225
    DOI: 10.1111/lest.12051

  • Ellison LE, Munro VE, Hohl K, Wallang P, ‘Challenging Criminal Justice? Psychosocial Disability and Rape Victimisation’, Criminology and Criminal Justice 2015, 225-244

  • Ellison LE, ‘Responding to the Needs of Victims with Psychosocial Disabilities: Challenges to Equality of Access to Justice’, Criminal Law Review -London- 2015, 28-47

  • Ellison LE, Munro VE, ‘A ‘Special’ Delivery? Exploring the Impact of Screens, Live-Links and Video-Recorded Evidence on Mock Juror Deliberation in Rape Trials’, Social Legal Studies, 23.1 (2014), 3-29
    DOI: 10.1177/0964663913496676

    This article discusses the findings of a study in which 160 volunteer members of the public observed one of four mini rape trial reconstructions and were asked to deliberate as a group towards a verdict. In a context in which research into the substantive content of the deliberations of real jurors is prohibited by the Contempt of Court Act 1981, these discussions were analysed to assess whether, and in what ways, perceptions of adult rape testimony are influenced by different modes of presentation. While lawyers and other observers have speculated about the possible undue effects of alternative trial arrangements on juror perceptions and the evaluation of evidence in rape trials, the issue has received scant empirical attention. In an effort to bridge this knowledge gap, this study investigated the influence upon mock jurors of three special measures currently made available in England and Wales to adult sexual offence complainants by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, namely (1) live-links; (2) video-recorded evidence-in-chief followed by live-link cross-examination and (3) protective screens. Following a careful and contextual exploration of the content of the mock juries’ deliberations, the researchers conclude that there was no clear or consistent impact as a result of these divergent presentation modes, suggesting that concerns over the use of special measures by adult rape complainants (at least in terms of juror influence) may be overstated.

  • Ellison LE, Munro VE, ‘Better the Devil You Know? ‘Real Rape’ Stereotypes and the Relevance of a Previous Relationship in (Mock) Juror Deliberations’, The International Journal of Evidence & Proof, 17.4 (2013), 299-322
    DOI: 10.1350/ijep.2013.17.4.433

    It has become commonplace in commentaries on the ‘justice gap’ in rape cases to lament the existence of a ‘real rape’ stereotype which prevents assaults involving known assailants, which take place in private spaces and perhaps without the use of additional physical violence, from being accepted as genuine and/or serious violations, whether by police, prosecutors or jurors. In previous work, we have urged caution lest too much reliance on the ‘real rape’ stereotype disguise the complexities at play in framing jurors' responses to rape cases involving acquaintances. In this article, we take these reflections further, drawing on a recent study conducted by the authors in which 160 members of the public were recruited and, having observed one of four mini trial reconstructions involving an alleged rape by the complainant's ex-partner, were divided into juries and asked to deliberate towards a verdict. Though the vast majority of our jurors were receptive, in principle, to the idea that a woman could be raped by a man with whom she had previously had a relationship—and indeed often noted the statistical prevalence of such assaults—participants continued to consider these cases to be ‘less clear-cut’, ‘more delicate’ and ‘a lot harder’ than rapes involving a stranger. In line with our previous findings in the context of acquaintance rapes, the fact of a familiarity between the trial parties created an opportunity for jurors to invoke and rely upon engrained expectations regarding resistance and sexual (mis)communication, which—when combined with persuasive strategies that interpreted the standard of proof as requiring nothing short of absolute certainty—mitigated against the likelihood of returning a guilty verdict. Significantly, though, as we will illustrate in this article, the fact of a previous intimate relationship interacted with these expectations in heightened and often quite specific ways to create new tropes.

  • Ellison LE, Munro V, ‘A Stranger in the Bushes, or An Elephant in the Room? Critical Reflections Upon Received Rape Myth Wisdom in the Context of a Mock Jury Study’, New Criminal Law Review, 13.4 (2010), 781-801
    DOI: 10.1525/nclr.2010.13.4.781

  • Ellison LE, Munro, V, ‘Turning Mirrors into Windows? Assessing the Impact of (Mock) Juror Education in Rape Trials’, British Journal of Criminology, 49.3 (2009), 363-383
    DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azp013

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