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Dean Daniel Filler Discusses the Effect of News Headlines on Jurors in WHYY Online

May 07, 2012

WHYY online featured commentary by Senior Associate Dean and Professor Daniel Filler in an article discussing the Philadelphia Archdiocese child sex abuse trial.

As the media focus on the case concerning allegations that 37 active priests were involved in sexual abuse or misconduct intensifies, the WHYY article questioned whether the headlines could lead to juror bias. Filler commented on just how difficult it is to insulate jurors from news headlines. "It's not only a difficult task, it's pretty close to an impossible task," Filler said.  Filler added that, if a headline causes bias in the mind of one juror, that bias could trickle down and affect other jurors unless it is brought to the attention of a judge or court officer.

Filler studies the effects of social anxiety on the development of criminal law.  He clerked for Judge J. Dickson Phillips Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit before becoming assistant public defender for the Defender Association of Philadelphia and then staff attorney for the Bronx Defenders.