Empathy, Emotion, and Embodied Actions in Jurors’ Decisions
Chapter 4 treats the trial as an intersubjective, multimodal encounter, in which the positioning and movements of bodies are centrally relevant to the trial’s outcome. As evidenced in their interviews, jurors are consistently tuned in to bodies, especially those of defendants, when making their decisions. This chapter analyzes ways in which jurors physically interact with defendants during trials and how these interactions mediate their levels of empathy for defendants. This includes often unexamined components of trials such as eye contact and the spatial arrangement of the courtroom, which, my analysis demonstrates, affect jurors’ ability and willingness to empathize with defendants. These contextual components are institutionally mediated by particular legal paralinguistic ideologies in order to manipulate ways in which jurors encounter defendants, contributing to the moral and emotional distance jurors rely on to sentence defendants to death.
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