Psychology from the bench
Date of this Version
In this article, the authors review the implications of the recent Northern Territory case of NJB v The Queen, and argue that it reveals the true depth of a paradox that has opened up with regard to the guidance afforded to a criminal trial jury. It is argued that there is an incongruity between the reluctance to adduce expert opinion evidence on the credibility of child witnesses and having judges inaccurately comment on the subject. This problem extends to judicial directions routinely employed in other areas of the criminal law where witnesses’ credibility is at issue. It is independent of whether or not these directions are framed as obligatory directions or as opinions that the jury is free to accept or reject. It requires a suspension of disbelief to accept long cherished legal maxims as to the efficacy of judicial directions in such circumstances.
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