virtual trial In the first part of this series, I attempted to assuage our fears of what is lost by conducting jury selection virtually by identifying what we have gained from this new medium. In the second and final part of this series, I address the concern with jurors’ ability to evaluate the credibility of witnesses who testify remotely or are wearing masks (i.e., in a socially distanced courtroom), as well as to empathize with them and ensure due process (i.e., honor the presumption of innocence). Drawing again upon theory and anecdote, I demonstrate that our fears are much less palpable than originally thought.

Evaluating Witness Credibility

One of the most seminal findings in psychology is that people, regardless of their level of alleged “expertise” or other individual difference characteristics, are not very good at detecting deception (Bond & DePaulo, 2006, 2008). In fact, overall rates of correctly identifying lies from truths are no better than chance. What we have found, however, is that there is some variability in the inclination to view others as truthful, and some people are perceived as more credible whether they are lying or telling the truth.