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The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials

Author

Listed:
  • Shamena Anwar
  • Patrick Bayer
  • Randi Hjalmarsson

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a unique data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010. We utilize a research design that exploits day-to-day variation in the composition of the jury pool to isolate quasi-random variation in the composition of the seated jury, finding evidence that: (i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member. The impact of jury race is much greater than what a simple correlation of the race of the seated jury and conviction rates would suggest. These findings imply that the application of justice is highly uneven and raise obvious concerns about the fairness of trials in jurisdictions with a small proportion of blacks in the jury pool.

Suggested Citation

  • Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2010. "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," NBER Working Papers 16366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16366
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2006. "An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 127-151, March.
    2. Mustard, David B, 2001. "Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 285-314, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Vickers, Chris, 2016. "Socioeconomic status and judicial disparities in England and Wales, 1870–1910," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 32-53.
    2. Mujcic, Redzo & Frijters, Paul, 2013. "Still Not Allowed on the Bus: It Matters If You're Black or White!," IZA Discussion Papers 7300, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:238-252 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2014. "The Role of Age in Jury Selection and Trial Outcomes," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 1001-1030.
    5. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2015. "Testing for Racial Prejudice in the Parole Board Release Process: Theory and Evidence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 1-37.
    6. Dahl, Gordon B. & Kotsadam, Andreas & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2018. "Does Integration Change Gender Attitudes? The Effect of Randomly Assigning Women to Traditionally Male Teams," Working Paper Series 5/2018, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    7. Williams, Izaak L. & O’Donnell, Clifford R., 2014. "Web-based tracking methods in longitudinal studies," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 82-89.
    8. Vessela Daskalova, 2016. "Discrimination, Social Identity, and Coordination: An Experiment," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1555, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    9. repec:eee:irlaec:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hugh Macartney & John D. Singleton, 2017. "School Boards and Student Segregation," NBER Working Papers 23619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Gordon Dahl & Andreas Kotsadam & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2018. "Does Integration Change Gender Attitudes? The Effect of Randomly Assigning Women to Traditionally Male Teams," NBER Working Papers 24351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Gender disparities in criminal justice," TSE Working Papers 17-762, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    13. Crystal S. Yang, 2015. "Free at Last? Judicial Discretion and Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 75-111.
    14. Francis X. Flanagan, 2015. "Peremptory Challenges and Jury Selection," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 385-416.
    15. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Do jurors and professional judges differ in their treatment of crime?: Evidence from French reform," TSE Working Papers 17-763, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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