Andrews, SJ and Lamb, ME (2017) Lawyers’ question repetition and children’s responses in Scottish criminal courts. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36 (1/2). pp. 276-296. ISSN 1552-6518

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This study examined the effects of repeated questions (n = 7,968) on fifty-six 5- to 17-year-olds’ testimony in child sexual abuse cases in Scottish criminal courts. We examined transcripts of direct- and cross-examinations, categorizing how lawyers asked repeated questions in court and how children responded. Defense lawyers repeated more questions (39.6% of all questions asked) than prosecutors (30.6%) and repeated questions using more suggestive prompts (52% of their repeated questions) than prosecutors (18%) did. In response, children typically repeated or elaborated on their answers and seldom contradicted themselves. Self-contradictions were most often elicited by repeated suggestive prompts posed by defense lawyers. Younger children were asked more repeated questions than older children, but child age was not associated with the types of questions repeated or with how children responded to repetition. Questions repeated after delays elicited more self-contradictions than questions repeated immediately. Most repeated questions (69.2%) were repeated more than once, yet no “asked-and-answered” objections were ever raised. Overall, the findings suggested that lawyers frequently ask children “risky” repeated questions. Official judicial guidance and training is needed to help identify and limit the inappropriate repetition of questions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Sage Publications at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: repeated questions, child sexual abuse, Scotland, defense cross-examination, prosecution direct-examination
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 10:42
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2021 12:32

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