Butler and Moran (2007) sought to determine how the assessment of aggravating and mitigating conditions in the course of capital trials by venirepersons was influenced by their death qualifications, the belief in a just world, locus of control and legal authoritarianism. Butler and Moran (2007) did conduct a survey; collecting data from 212 venirepersons; from the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in Brandeton, Florida. Questionnares were administered to assess their attitudes toward capital punishments; to assess their death qualifications, the belief in a just world, locus of control and legal authoritarianism; and to assess the aggravating aspects as well as the statutory and non-statutory mitigators. According to Butler and Moran (2007), the jurors who had the slightest belief in a just world, and had an external locus of control were likely to endorse statutory mitigators. While the venirepersons who had advocated for legal authoritarianism had a high tendency of endorsing aggravators and barely endorsed non-statutory mitigators.
The study by Butler and Moran (2007), clearly articulated the effect of death qualification status, the belief in a just world, locus of control and legal authoritarianism, on the appraisal of the aggravating and mitigating conditions by jurors in capital trials. The authors utilize a robust research methodology; they use surveys to collect data from 212 participants based in Florida. As a result of using this methodology, the study has a high level of representativeness. The authors analyzed the multiple variables in an effective manner, presenting statistically significant results. It is also worth noting that the questions that Butler and Moran (2007) used to appraise the influential factors were standardized; providing uniform definitions to all participants in the survey. As a result, the study had a high precision in measuring the gathered data. Moreover, the participants in the research were issued with a consent form that declared the objective of the research and that required them to affirm their voluntary and anonymous involvements; hence the level of bias was significantly reduced.
Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.
Butler and Moran (2007) also conclude their article in a proper way. After presenting their findings, they effectively evaluate and interpret the implications of these findings taking into consideration their original hypotheses. They examine, analyze and qualify the findings while trying to make inferences from them concerning the influence of death qualification status, the belief in a just world, locus of control and legal authoritarianism on the assessment of assessment of aggravating and mitigating conditions. They also connect the findings of their research to a larger scholarly context, advancing a link to some wider conversation on the topic at hand as is presented by other scholars.
Nonetheless, this study is not without a fair share flaws. The most notable flaw is the diversity of the views that are collected in the survey. The sample population does not necessarily represent the general public because they are all form one place: the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in Brandeton, Florida. As a result, the findings of the study could not be as reliable as expected. To resolve this issue it is important to collect data from various judicial circuits so as to analyze diverse views in relation to the research question. In spite of the unreliability limitation, this study is of great significance as it extends past findings on the topic by showcasing that a mere selection of juror for a capital trial could be excluding individuals with desired personalities while including the ones with undesired personalities. This leaves the often the defense as the disadvantaged party as their fate is often left to be decided by an homogeneous group of individuals who reject the argument for life in support of death as way to punish capital crime. This leaves me with the question: “ what can be done to ensure that people with the right attitudes toward capital punishment constitute the jury of a capital trial?”
Butler, B. & Moran, G. (2007). “The Impact of Death Qualification, Belief in a Just World, Legal Authoritarianism, and Locus of Control on Venirepersons’ Evaluations of Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances in Capital Trials.” Behavioral Sciences and the Law Behav. Sci. Law, 25 : 57–68.