Wrightsman’s Psychology and the Legal System 8th Edition by Edith Greene – Test Bank
Psychology and the Law: Choices and Roles
Questions for Class Discussion and/or Essay Examinations
1. As noted in Chapter 1, laws need to be developed and modified to keep up with the rapid changes in our lives and in society. Laws must also always take into consideration both individual rights and public safety. Discuss Edward Rosenheimer’s case and the court process and decision that followed. What are some recent developments in technology and society, which are in need of regulation and/or have resulted in the development of new laws? (The Importance of Laws)
2. How does the psychological approach to the study of the law differ from the sociological approach? (The Psychological Study of Law)
3. Explain Kurt Lewin’s position on behavior. In your explanation, use an example that pertains to the legal system. (The Psychological Study of Law)
4. Provide examples of the types of tasks that a forensic psychologist might do. (The Psychological Study of Law)
5. Chapter 1 presents four basic choices in the psychological study of the law. What are these four basic choices? Describe the dilemma that each choice presents. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
6. What does it mean to say that the rights of the individual and the rights of the common good are in conflict? Give an example. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
7. Contrast the crime control model and the due process model. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
8. Discuss the maxim: “it is better that ten guilty persons shall go free than that one innocent
person should suffer” in relation to the due process model of the criminal justice system. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
9. Describe what the principle of equality means within the legal system. How does profiling violate that principle? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
10. Discuss and provide different examples of the ways the principle of equality may be
violated (e.g., discrepant treatment under the law based on financial or social status, race
or ethnicity, gender, age, etc.). (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
11. Define profiling. Describe the evidence presented in Chapter 1 that suggests that profiling occurs. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
12. What is the principle of proportionality? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
13. Why is discretion in the application of the law important? What are some problems that can emerge when discretion is used? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
14. How do different players in the legal system (i.e., police officers, prosecutors, juries and judges) exercise discretion? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
15. Describe the case of Troy Davis. Define clemency, and indicate how this concept is relevant to Davis. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
16. Review different cases in which clemency was granted. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
17. Discuss the issue of sentencing disparity and race. What is an explanation for this disparity? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
18. What is the relationship between sentencing disparity and determinate sentencing? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
19. Describe an important component of procedural justice. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
20. How do the state and the defendant benefit from plea bargaining? (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
21. Discuss the concept of plea bargaining and the related conflict between seeking efficiency and finding the truth. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
22. What procedure does the civil system use to resolve most of its conflicts? Describe this procedure. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
23. Discuss amicus curiae briefs and provide examples of cases in which they have played a role. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
24. Contrast psychology and the law regarding the basis they use for forming opinions. Discuss examples of how the law requires absolute or “either-or” decisions and psychology relies on and provides answers in terms of probabilities (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law).
25. Describe the history of Supreme Court decisions on segregation and desegregation, from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) on to Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Discuss this process with regard to stare decisis. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
26. What does it mean to say that the law deals with absolutes, while psychology deals with probabilities? Provide examples with your answer. (Basic Choices in the Psychological Study of the Law)
27. Name and describe five roles that psychologists may play in the legal system. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
28. Discuss the ethical standards of conduct for psychologists who work within the legal system (i.e., differentiate between the five roles that psychologists can play). (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
29. Describe the Tarasoff case. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
30. What is an expert witness? Who decides whether or not an expert witness testifies at a trial, and what is the basis of that decision? (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
31. Discuss different examples of what psychologists might do as expert witnesses. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
32. The Daubert decision listed four factors that should be considered in assessing the validity and subsequent admissibility of an expert’s testimony. Name these factors. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
33. Discuss the role of policy evaluator. Provide examples of the kinds of issues and questions they address and the ethical dilemmas involved. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
34. What are the two different ways that mental health professionals can become involved in litigation as a forensic evaluator? (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
35. Review common ethical violations committed by forensic psychologists.
Compare these violations and their treatment by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (EPPCC), the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, and the Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
36. What kinds of activities does a trial consultant do? Discuss the differences between the roles of forensic evaluator and trial consultant. (Psychologists’ Roles in the Law)
Class Discussions and Debates
1. Discussion: Request reactions from the class regarding the potential filing of charges against teenagers for “sexting” (i.e., sending nude and seminude photos by cell phone). Should laws regulate these activities? Possible source:
Friedman, E. (2009, Feb. 12). ‘Sexting’ teens may face child porn charges: Dad of sexting
teen says son is being treated unfairly. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=6864809&page=1
Also consider this opinion piece:
Lithwick, D. (2009, Feb. 14). Textual misconduct. What to do about teens and their dumb
naked photos of themselves. Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/id/2211169
2. Discussion: Request reactions from the class on the acceptability of a civic organization with a “males only” policy at its Friday night dinners. Is there a gender difference in their views?
3. Discussion: One of the dilemmas in our society is the question of whether or not the law should uphold the rights of specific individuals or protect society in general. For example, should citizens be required by law to wear seat belts? Without the use of seat belts, injury and death rates increase along with other costs to society (e.g., higher medical insurance premiums). Ask students to consider the rights of individuals versus the common good. Alternatively, have students survey community members regarding their use of seat belts. Evaluate the kinds of reasons people give for not wearing their seat belts (i.e., what percentage of these responses emphasize the rights of the individual over the rights of society as discussed in the chapter?).
4. Discussion: Another issue that is relevant to the issue of upholding the rights of individuals versus protecting society in general is the push to ban smoking in public establishments. For example, in January of 2006, legislators passed a smoking ban in New Jersey that bans smoking in indoor public spaces that includes virtually all bars and restaurants (it does not include the gambling areas of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos). New Jersey was the 11th state to pass such a law. Protestors said it violated their rights; Governor Richard Codey stated, “I’m saving you from second hand smoke.” The case presented in Chapter 1 pushes this issue even further: Should cities be able to limit smoking in residences such as apartments where residents share walls etc? Have students comment on this debate. You can start by having students indicate which side they agree with; is their agreement influenced by whether or not they smoke?
5. Discussion: Another issue relevant to the rights of individuals versus the protection of the public is the recent push to ban inmates from posting pen pal ads online. Websites such as WriteAPrisoner.com list such postings, but some states have a policy that inmates not solicit pen pals (they can write to pen pals). Representatives from states such as Florida claim that such policies protect the public (see http://www.dc.state.fl.us/ ). Critics claim that the rights of inmates are being violated. What do students think?
6. Discussion: Was the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. an example of racial profiling? Mr. Gates, an African American scholar at Harvard, was arrested on July 16, 2009 and charged with disorderly conduct after a neighbor called police to report a robbery in progress at Mr. Gates’ home. Review the details of this case and discuss.
7. Discussion: Should the life of a criminal after his or her sentence mean the difference between life and death? Consider the case of Troy Davis and the request of clemency. Davis was convicted of killing a police officer and sentenced to die, but maintained his innocence and sought clemency. His clemency request was denied. What do students think?
8. Debate: Should Employers Limit Secondhand Smoke? Possible sources: For a “Yes” response see L. Zellers, M. A. Thomas, and M. Ashe, and a “No” response by R. A. Levy and R. B. Marimont see Issue 8 in R. Goldberg (Ed.) (2010). Taking sides: Clashing Views on Drugs and Society (9th ed.). Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.
9. Debate: Debate the issue of same sex marriage. Possible source for a collection of arguments for and against the issue: Sullivan, A. (2004). Same-sex marriage: Pro and con: A reader. Vintage.
10. Debate: Should trial consultants be allowed? Do students have any reservations about consultants assisting defense lawyers in their selection of a jury? Does the fact that trial consultants often assist rich defendants influence the validity of the assumption that everyone is treated equally by the courts?
11. Discussion: Review common ethical violations committed by forensic psychologists.
Compare these violations and their treatment by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (EPPCC), the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, and the Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings.
12. Discussion: Provide descriptions of the different roles psychologists can play in legal
contexts. Have the class separate into groups according to the roles they prefer and discuss the reasons for their choices and correct any inaccurate assumptions.
13. Discussion: Review the different tasks and responsibilities of psychologists who serve as
forensic evaluators and those who serve as trial consultants. Review the relevant ethical
guidelines for each.
Research Activities and Assignments
1. Research Activity: This activity is from Michelle McCauley from Middlebury College and provides a nice introduction to the work of legal/forensic psychologists. Michelle notes that at the start of the semester, students often have an incorrect schema for what a legal or forensic psychologist does. She asks them to find a movie (not 12 Angry Men), television episode, or book which includes legal psychology, and discuss how the research and/or the psychologist is presented. The students are then asked to consult the relevant literature and determine the extent to which the media’s portrayal was accurate.
2. Research Activity: Visit http://gaylife.about.com/od/samesexmarriage/a/legalgaymarriag.htm to find out where same sex marriage is legal.
3. Research Activity: Have students design and conduct a survey to assess public opinion regarding the crime control versus due process models. Possible questions to include are suggested in Chapter 1 (i.e., “Do you approve of a three-strikes law?” “In a criminal trial, is it up to the person who is accused of the crime to prove his or her innocence?” “Is it better for 10 guilty people to go free than one innocent person to suffer?”).
4. Research Activity: As suggested above, the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates launched a nationwide discussion of racial profiling. Go to CNN’s poll to see if people generally believed that the police made an error in arresting Gates. The poll can be found at http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/04/obama.gates.poll/index.html?iref=newssearch. Students can conduct a similar poll in their own neighborhood (perhaps using a scenario that they create).
5. Research Activity: Ask students to interview criminal attorneys about the purpose of a trial—finding truth versus resolving conflicts. Would the attorney represent a defendant who had committed a crime that the lawyer found to be immoral?
6. Research Activity: Request a volunteer to sit in a roped-off section of the class, labeled in a demeaning manner of some kind. Before the end of class, get reactions from the class, relating it to the issue of desegregation, and especially to the procedure used by the University of Oklahoma in regard to George McLaurin.
7. Research Activity: Have a student interview a judge who is reluctant to allow expert testimony concerning the accuracy of the testimony of an eyewitness. What reasons does he or she give for this opinion? If a judge is not available for interview, have students identify and review published legal decisions and/or case opinions addressing the issue of expert testimony on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.
8. Paper Assignment: Have students write a paper on any of the conflicts presented in Chapter 1. For example, should there be a law against smoking in public spaces? Consider the rights of individuals versus the common good.
9. Research and Paper Assignment: This idea comes from Michelle McCauley from Middlebury College. She asks her students to write an amicus research brief as if they are employees of a professional organization (e.g., American Psychological Association). The challenge is that students must provide a realistic view of the research, and not just provide the view that they wish to be true. Michelle reports that students find this task to be more interesting and realistic than the typical literature review assignment.
10. Paper Assignment: Have students write a short paper on the role they would play and the
steps they would take if they were to work as a trial consultant on a criminal case involving mental health issues. Have students choose the kind of case and the psychological/legal issues involved.