Attorney Michael Cicchini and Professor Lawrence White previously documented here that jurors who were told to “search for the truth” were much more likely to convict a defendant even if they had reasonable doubt about his guilt than those who were properly instructed on reasonable doubt. In other words, truth-related language lowers the State’s burden of proof. Their new study confirms their earlier findings, discusses the cognitive link between jury instructions and conviction rates, and argues that court’s should immediately cease using truth-based jury instructions.
This new data would seem to support an argument that a trial court errs when it tacks on “search for the truth” language to its “reasonable doubt” instruction. Object and preserve the issue.