Racial discrimination in the court room and jury selection bias

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Racial discrimination in the court room and jury selection bias

Posted on September 25, 1 Comment Attorneys, judges and jurors all want to see themselves as fair, equitable, and rational, yet studies show that despite our best intentions none of us are free from bias. Implicit bias refers to unconsciously held biases that do not necessarily reflect our conscious beliefs.

Because implicit bias is subconscious, even people who consciously abhor discrimination can unconsciously be influenced by implicit bias. Studies show that implicit bias can affect how judges make decisions, how attorneys decide who to leave on juries and how jurors decide what testimony to believe or disregard.

The impact of implicit bias on decision making has been shown in numerous studies. Partners reviewing the identical third-year associate memorandum rated the memorandum higher and found fewer errors when the associate was identified as white than black. The important takeaway is not that implicit bias is bad or that people who have bias are bad people.

We all have bias. Part of our job as trial attorneys and judges is to recognize and address racial justice issues whenever and wherever they arise.

Racial discrimination in the court room and jury selection bias

For example, within the context of a jury trial, it is critically important to recognize the role that implicit racial bias may play within the minds of otherwise well intentioned jurors.

During voir dire you have the right to question jurors concerning their beliefs and attitudes on race and racial bias. Start with introducing the issue of racial bias to the jurors and then try to get them to talk about it.

Make sure to link questions about race to your case. The following statement to the jury panel and sample voir dire questions are a good starting point. Some attorneys may prefer to have the judge address the issue of racial bias with the jury panel by asking all or some of the following race related questions.

All voir dire issues including the racial bias statement below should be discussed with the judge during your pretrial conference prior to commencement of trial. Ladies and gentlemen, despite the many differences in our lives and backgrounds, we all want to see ourselves as fair, equitable, and rational human beings, yet studies show that despite our best intentions none of us are free from bias.

Implicit racial bias refers to unconsciously held biases that do not necessarily reflect our conscious beliefs. Implicit bias is developed over the course of a lifetime through exposure to direct and indirect messages.

Studies show that implicit bias can affect how we all make important decisions in our lives. Please keep that in mind as you answer the following questions Note: Describe work setting i. Socialize with them outside of work? If so, types of activities?

Have they been in your home? Have you been in their home?

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Do you have kids? Are they in school? Do you have any contact with them? Ever been in their house? They ever been in your house? Do your kids have any contact with them? Do their kids have any contact with you?

Are you friends with them? If so, describe types of contacts you have with them? What kind of relationship did you have with them?

Describe activities you would do with them? They ever in your home?Curiously, the chief justice was on the other side in a case last week considering an equally grotesque case of racism in criminal justice, Peña-Rodriguez v.

Colorado. The court majority struck down a jury verdict thoroughly infused with racism, Roberts joined Alito in his dissent, with Thomas filing a separate one. The longstanding and ineffective rule for checking racial bias in jury selection is known as the "Batson Rule," named for the U.S.

Supreme Court case Batson v. Kentucky. Illegal Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection: A Continuing Legacy Share this: Since Reconstruction, when Congress outlawed racial discrimination in jury service, 18 U.S.C.

§ , and the Supreme Court condemned the restriction of jury service to whites, Strauder v. Christina Swarns, the litigation director at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, says cases with overt forms of bias in jury selection are a “canary in the coalmine” for broader problems of racial discrimination.

[Rev. 6/2/ PM] SUPREME COURT RULES. ADOPTED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA _____ Effective October 15, and Including. Christina Swarns, the litigation director at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, says cases with overt forms of bias in jury selection are a “canary in the coalmine” for broader problems of racial discrimination.

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