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Jurors’ and Judges’ Evaluation of Defendants with Autism and the Impact on Sentencing: A Systematic Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) Review of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Courtroom.

J Law Med. 2017 Nov;25(1):105-123

Authors: Allely CS, Cooper P

Concern has been highlighted in the literature regarding how juries and judges handle cases which involve a defendant with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The relatively little research on judicial perceptions or decision-making regarding individuals with ASD indicates that judges have limited understanding and familiarity with high-functioning ASD (hfASD) and ASD. The present systematic review will identify studies which investigate jurors’ (eg using mock jurors) and/or judges’ evaluations of defendants with ASD and studies which investigate whether the defendant diagnosis of ASD impacts on sentencing. Only four studies were identified which investigated jurors’ and/or judges’ evaluations of a defendant with an ASD or investigated whether the defendant diagnosis of ASD impacts on sentencing. Further research is recommended which should include an evaluation of cases involving a defendant with an hfASD or ASD diagnosis comparing charges, pleas entered, procedural adjustments at court, evidence adduced about the defendant’s condition, directions to juries, judicial remarks on the evidence (eg summing-up for the jury), verdicts and sentencing. This would enable the assessment of the specific offending behaviour and disorder of the defendant, and how these may be relevant to their mental capacity and culpability.

PMID: 29978627 [PubMed – in process]

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