Dr Louise Ellison's Publications
The Adversarial Process and the Vulnerable Witness (Oxford University Press) (Oxford University Press, 2001), xiii,182p,
Feminist Perspectives on Evidence, ed. by Childs M and Ellison LE (London: Cavendish, 2000),
‘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,
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.
‘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 (2013), 3-29,
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.
‘Evidence in Court: Witness Preparation and Cross-Examination Style Effects on Adult Witness Accuracy’, Behavioral Sciences and the Law 2012,
Witnesses play a clear and pivotal role in the criminal justice system and there is an obvious public interest in identifying procedures that both undermine and maximize the quality of evidence received by the criminal courts. This paper reports an investigation into the effects of witness familiarization and cross-examination type on adult witness accuracy that situates outcomes in both legal and psychological context. 60 mock witnesses observed a crime event and each witness was then cross-examined by a practising barrister in a moot courtroom according to two conditions - either via a scripted complex version of cross-examination or by a simpler but equivalent scripted examination. Mock witnesses were also allocated to two further conditions - half the participants received a guidance booklet on cross-examination and the other half received no familiarization to the process. Study outcomes showed that familiarization of witnesses to cross-examination processes increased accurate responses and reduced errors. The guidance seemingly allowed accessibility to cognitive information that enabled witnesses to process information more effectively. On this basis, advance written information about the nature of the cross-examination and potentially misleading tactics used by advocates could help to immunize against negative lawyerly influence. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
‘Could you ask me that in a different way? Exploring the impact of courtroom questioning and witness familiarisation on adult witness accuracy’, Criminal Law Review, November 2010 (2010), 823-839,
‘Getting to (Not) Guilty: Examining Jurors’ Deliberative Processes in, and Beyond the Context of a Mock Rape Trial’, Legal Studies, 30.1 (2010), 74-97,
‘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,
‘Of ‘Normal Sex’ and ‘Real Rape’: Exploring the Use of Socio-Sexual Scripts in (Mock) Jury Deliberation’, Social and legal Studies, 18.3 (2009), 1-22,
‘Reacting to Rape: Exploring Mock Jurors’ Assessments of Complainant Credibility’, British Journal of Criminology, 49.2 (2009), 202-219,
‘Use and Abuse of Psychiatric Evidence in Rape Trials’, International Journal of Evidence and Proof, 13.1 (2009), 28-49,
‘Turning Mirrors into Windows? Assessing the Impact of (Mock) Juror Education in Rape Trials’, British Journal of Criminology, 49.3 (2009), 363-383,
‘Closing the credibility gap: The prosecutorial use of expert witness testimony in sexual assault cases’, International Journal of Evidence and Proof, 9.4 (2005), 239-268,
‘The mosaic art?: cross-examination and the vulnerable witness’, Legal Studies, 21.3 (2001), 353-375,
‘The Protection of Vulnerable Witnesses in Court: An Anglo-Dutch Comparison’, International Journal of Evidence and Proof, 3.1 (1999), 29-43,
‘Cyber-stalking: the Regulation of Harassment on the Internet’, Criminal Law Review 1998, 29-48,
‘Cross-examination in Rape Trials’, Criminal Law Review 1998, 605-615,
‘Cyber-stalking: Tackling Harassment on the Internet’, in Crime and the Internet, ed. by Wall D (Routledge, 2001),
‘Rape and the Culture of the Courtroom’, in Feminist Perspectives on Evidence, ed. by Childs M and Ellison LE ([n.pub.], [n.d.]),