"How Much Do We Really Know about Race and Juries? A Review of Social Science Theory and Research"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Chicago-Kent Law Review
Publication Type
Journal Article

Social science findings are often overlooked or oversimplified by legal scholars who write about race and juries. This body of empirical research offers important theoretical and methodological contributions to the study of race and jury decision making, yet it is also marked by inconsistencies and common design limitations. In the present Article, we evaluate the state of this literature more critically and attempt to integrate its often disparate findings using psychological theories of racial bias and social judgment. Our review includes studies that measure the influence of a defendant's race on the judgments of individual jurors; studies comparing the decision making of White and Black mock jurors; and a handful of studies that examine the impact of race at the group, or jury level. This analysis is followed by an exploration of a recent mock jury experiment that demonstrates the capabilities of social science re- search for investigating jury decision making in a controlled, yet highly realistic setting. Conclusions focus on future directions for the study of race and juries, and emphasize the general importance of utilizing multiple methodologies in any empirical investigation of the legal system.

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