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Empathy, experience and the rule against bias in criminal trials
journal contributionposted on 2012-04-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew GrovesMatthew Groves
The rule against bias requires that judges, jurors and other decision-makers approach their task impartially. The rule will be breached if decision-makers say or do something that gives reason to doubt their impartiality, or if there is an association between decision-makers and a party to the case before them. These principles do not translate easily to case of personal experience and empathy. What happens when decision-makers have an experience similar to an issue before them? Does a similar experience inform or disqualify a decision-maker? The Court of Appeal of Victoria has delivered conflicting decisions about this issue. This article will examine these cases within the context of apprehended bias.