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NCJ Number: 68503 Find in a Library
Title: BIASES AND JURY DECISION MAKING (FROM NEW APPROACHES TO SOCIAL PROBLEMS, P 265-284, 1979, BY IRENE HANSON FRIEZE ET AL)
Author(s): D MCGILLIS
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: RESEARCH ON THE ATTRIBUTIONAL PROCESSES OF JURORS IS REVIEWED, AND POLICY MODIFICATIONS TO HELP REDUCE POTENTIAL JUROR BIASES ARE SUGGESTED.
Abstract: A NUMBER OF SUPREME COURT DECISIONS HAVE DEALT WITH POSSIBLE BIAS IN JURY DECISIONMAKING. THE COURT HAS RULED THAT THE MERE EXISTENCE OF A POSSIBLE BIAS IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR A POTENTIAL JUROR TO BE CONSIDERED CONSTITUTIONALLY UNACCEPTABLE; HOWEVER, THE COURT HAS ALSO HELD THAT IN VOIR DIRE, THE JUDGE SHOULD QUERY POTENTIAL JURORS ABOUT SPECIFIC PREJUDICES RELEVANT TO THE CASE AT ISSUE. RECENTLY, THE COURT SOUGHT TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF STEREOTYPING BY JURIES BY PROHIBITING THE STATE TO COMPEL PRISONERS TO APPEAR IN COURT IN PRISON ATTIRE. THESE ACTIONS BY THE SUPREME COURT ARE LARGELY IN RESPONSE TO THE FINDINGS OF PSYCHOLEGAL RESEARCH ON JURIES AND JURY BIASES. SUCH RESEARCH HAS SHOWN SIGNIFICANT RACIAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC BIASES IN JURY DECISIONMAKING. SUCH BIASES MAY NOT NECESSARILY WORK UNFAVORABLY FOR RACES AND SOCIOECONOMIC GROUPS PERCEIVED AS HAVING HIGH CRIMINALITY. WHERE CRIMINALITY IS PERCEIVED AS A WAY OF LIFE FOR A DEFENDANT'S PEER GROUP, SOME JURORS MAY TEND TOWARD LENIENCY BECAUSE OF THE DEFENDANT'S DETRIMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES. A DEFENDANT FROM A SOCIOECONOMIC GROUP PERCEIVED AS HAVING LOW CRIMINALITY, ON THE OTHER HAND, MAY BE JUDGED MORE HARSHLY BECAUSE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES AND LAWABIDING VALUES CHARACTERIZING HIS ENVIRONMENT. HOWEVER JUROR BIASES WORK FOR THE DEFENDANT, THEY INTRODUCE EXTRALEGAL INFLUENCES INTO JURY DECISIONMAKING TO PRODUCE UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF DEFENDANTS CHARGED WITH COMPARABLE CRIMES PROSECUTED WITH COMPARABLE EVIDENCE. JUROR BIAS COULD POSSIBLY BE REDUCED BY SENSITIZING JURORS TO BIAS IN ORIENTATION SESSIONS AND INTRODUCING TESTS OF BIAS IN POTENTIAL JUROR APPLICATIONS. WITH THE INCREASE OF NEIGHBORHOOD JUSTICE CENTERS WHERE MEDIATORS AND CITIZENS PASS INFORMAL JUDGMENTS ON RELATIVELY MINOR DISPUTES, EFFORTS TO REDUCE DECISIONMAKING BIAS MUST ALSO EXTEND TO THESE ARENAS. TABULAR DATA ARE INCLUDED.
Index Term(s): Discrimination; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Jury selection; Research
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68503

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