An Investigation of Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Processing in Post-Appellate Review of a Criminal Case
Convicted persons who claim to be factually innocent frequently seek assistance from advocacy organizations that help investigate and establish actual innocence. This experiment examined the extent to which the knowledge that a case has passed pre-screening by an innocence project influences case reviewer judgment through top-down case processing. One hundred and fifty-nine participants role-played case reviewers, evaluated discovery for a criminal case, and evaluated the case. Prior to evaluation, half of the participants were instructed that the case was not previously adjudicated, whereas the other half was told that the case was referred by an innocence advocacy organization. Instructions significantly influenced participant evaluations, suggesting the influence of top-down processing of case discovery.